Raise your hand if you've been treated for breast cancer.
Raising your hand may actually prove difficult if you happen to be one of the one in eight women in the U.S. who have been diagnosed and treated for breast cancer, especially if you have undergone a mastectomy or radiation therapy. Usually the mastectomy procedure involves excision of the lymph nodes from the axilla (armpit), sometimes resulting in a condition called lymphedema, which is a chronic swelling of the arm.
If you have undergone mastectomy and excision of lymph nodes, you have been cautioned by your physician or another medical professional to be very protective of your arm, avoiding injections in the affected arm, not getting your blood pressure taken in that arm, avoiding injury or insect bites in that arm, and even avoiding getting a massage due to the risk of an overload of fluid being pushed toward the compromised lymph node area under the arm.
If you love massage and have avoided getting one because you are at risk for lymphedema (swelling in an arm or leg caused by a blockage in the lymphatic system), I'm here to tell you that there are massage therapists who can give you a safe massage. Oncology massage is a small subspecialty of massage therapy, comprising only about 1 percent of therapists. Portland is one of the premier places in the U.S. for training in oncology massage because of the fabulous program at Oregon Health and Science University's Knight Cancer Institute.
Before I had even graduated from massage school, I took a course in how to give massage to people living with cancer. It was during that introductory class that I determined that after I got my license, I was going to take every class available to get my certification in oncology massage. I went on to take the hospital class at OHSU and completed volunteer work in the infusion units there. I then got my certification in manual lymphatic drainage (to treat lymphedema), and then another certification in mastectomy scar therapy.
Did you know that you can get mastectomy scar therapy to help soften and flatten the scars? I have had clients tell me that scar therapy has given them relief of the pain and deep "itching" feeling that sometimes accompany surgical scars.
I really enjoy being able to help clients who have gone through treatment for cancer. I know that what I do makes a positive difference in their lives, and I am very happy to be able to offer my skills at Lake Oswego Adult Community Center. Make an appointment for a massage by calling the ACC at 503-635-3758. Massage is available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
The lunch menu this week features barbecue pork on Friday, June 7; fish tacos on Monday, July 10; and chicken shawarma wraps on Wednesday, July 12. Cost is a suggested donation of $4 for those 60 and older and $5 for everyone else.
The LOACC is located at 505 G Ave., Lake Oswego.
A list of activities and support groups can be found on our website, loacc.info, under the Calendar banner. Click on "View the Adult Community Center Calendar" and then the activity for more details. Call 503-635-3758 to register for classes, events, make lunch reservations or schedule a massage.
Cindy Gellinger is a licensed massage therapist and certified manual lymph drainage therapist. She offers services at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center twice a week.