Rehabilitation and Breast Cancer

2022/03/18 Home Education and advice

Rehabilitation and Breast Cancer

By Phédavril Racine

Learning about the diagnosis of breast cancer, accepting this diagnosis, living with cancer and overcoming breast cancer…these are all different aspects that can be addressed when carrying out your rehabilitation in a private clinical setting.

What are these aspects of rehabilitation?

cancer du sein et réhabilitation

Physical and Mental Health

Living with breast cancer is very demanding on the body and the mind. You must juggle heavy medication, repeated appointments, and a disrupted daily routine. This way of life is very tiring without neglecting the fact that the body loses muscle mass and strength.

From the moment you receive the diagnosis, it is important to integrate weekly sessions of exercises adapted to your condition and meditation into your routine.  Exercise is proven to boost the immune system, maintain muscle mass, aid breathing and, most importantly, increase energy.

Most women living with breast cancer find it difficult to motivate themselves after a hard day or don’t know what exercises are recommended for their condition. Therefore, joining a group or private class with an athletic therapist or kinesiologist will help find that motivation. These health professionals understand the biomechanics of the human body and its functions to optimise the training for any health condition. They will therefore be able to adapt the training program according to the condition and the path to remission. However, it is always recommended to have the consent of your doctor before starting a training program, even with an athletic therapist or kinesiologist.

Post-operative Recovery

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, most women with breast cancer will have surgery for one of the following reasons:

  • Completely remove the tumor
  • Check or remove lymph nodes
  • Remove recurrent cancer in the breast – mastectomy
  • Reconstruct the breast

After this type of intervention, a woman’s body can respond in different ways. One of these ways is to adopt a more closed posture with a rounded back and the shoulders forward. This posture is adopted not only to protect or hide from the loss of one or more breasts, but also will be marked by the missing weight of the breast or breasts. Joint mobility will also be limited due to muscle tension and scar tissue from surgery.

An assessment of your current state which includes performing physical tests, a physiotherapist or athletic therapist will ensure that your recovery is successful and that you have regained your physical ability. The manual therapy treatment approach will help you regain mobility as well as improve flexibility and muscle strength with targeted exercises for your condition.

cancer du sein et réhabilitation

Lymphedema

During the surgery to remove a tumor, the lymphatic system may be affected. The lymphatic system is located between the skin and the muscles. It is made up of white blood cells and lymph to flush out waste and bacteria from the body. When the lymphatic system fails, the arm, neck, and/or torso may be abnormally swollen compared to the unaffected side. This condition is called lymphedema. Fortunately, we can control it well with lymphatic drainage and compression garments.

Lymphatic drainage consists of touching the affected limb to stimulate the lymphatic system which has slowed down. A lymphedema therapist, preferably a member of the Association Québécoise en lymphedème (AQL), is trained to do lymphatic drainages on a regular basis. This type of intervention in combination with multi-layer bandages or compression garments can stabilize excessive lymphedema on a daily basis.

In general, the certified lymphotherapist collaborates with orthotists and/or bra fitters to ensure that you have the right compression garment and the right breast prosthesis. These clothes allow you to regain your physical abilities, reduce pain and regain self-confidence. For several years now, the RAMQ has covered all or part of these garments and prostheses.

We have the people to help!

Therefore, women with or having had breast cancer in addition to being diagnosed with lymphedema and/or having a mastectomy will be able to enjoy a more comfortable life with the help of a team of health professionals. Do not hesitate to contact one of them to regain your abilities and especially your self-confidence!

It is normal to have questions when trying something new. We now offer the possibility to schedule a FREE orientation call with a therapist to help you decide!

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