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Nov 11, 2019 07:11AM
Euphorbia, I've been lucky both times (2003 and 2018), and I haven't had lymphedema. However, I guard against it many of the ways that have have been mentioned by others on this thread. I was advised by my PT to wear a compression sleeve for 1 year post mastectomy surgeries, for flying. 1 hour before take off and 1 hour after landing, to help regulate pressure. I bought a compression sleeve online, and have stuck to using it when I fly. It's a preventive / prophylactic measure. Not mentioned by my surgeon, but indeed something that two knowledgeable PT's who treat lymphedema have advised me to do.
There's a breast cancer lymphedema specialty in physical therapy, for treating and preventing lymphedema. The techniques include "manual lymph drainage." My friend (retired now from this exact career in PT) wrote a book to help patients:
After 2003 lumpectomy + axillary node excision, I made sure to never have blood drawn or a shot, or prune roses without good protection, etc. on that right arm. However, now I have had a bilateral mastectomy. In fact, the axillary excision (again) was also on the right side, so I've continued to treat the right arm as being more likely to get lymphedema. Unfortunately, my left side (because any torso surgery, not just axillary node excision puts us at risk), is ALSO at risk for lymphedema. So, I used the compression sleeve on the right side, but will continue to be really careful about any abrasion and possible infection source on both sides. Harrumph, and EEK: Of course, when I have to have blood drawn or a needle poke, I DO worry, but left side is probably safer for me than right side for those things, since I never had axillary node excisions on my left side. Right side TWICE. So, I'm careful with both arms.
I've just spent 1 week in California. 5 days with my sister at Monterey Bay, where we kayaked, biked and hiked. So gorgeous! Then two days with DH in the Los Angeles area, where we had beach walking, visited the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens, and celebrated our son's birthday with him. I got several hours of exercise out in nature every day; my favorite type! Off to the pool soon for my usual daily deep water aerobics now that I'm home.
A view from my kayak in Elkhorn Slough (lots of sea otters and birds, I was too busy paddling to photograph much, sorry!), and one of the redwoods and hills on a hike near Big Sur:
Otter at the aquarium, since my photos of them outside are not this close!
3/2003, IDC, Right, <1cm, Stage IA, 0/2 nodes, ER+, HER2-
6/10/2003 3DCRT: Breast
8/8/2003 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
4/25/2018, IDC, Right, <1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
5/22/2018 Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Prophylactic mastectomy: Left; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement
6/25/2018 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel)
11/7/2018 Arimidex (anastrozole)
1/2/2019 Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant