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Topic: Can I play Tennis?

Forum: Lymphedema —

Talk with other about how to lower your risk of lymphedema and how to manage it if you've been diagnosed.

Posted on: Jul 14, 2011 09:15AM

sanbar8771 wrote:

Am I able to play tennis if I had 15 nodes removed from my left side and 5 on my right? I am left handed but I am sure I can switch to the right hand. I do not have lymphadema, but there is always potential. I just was curious if anyone has played tennis after Axilla removal. Thanks, Julie.

Dx 5/7/2010, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 2/15 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 14, 2011 09:26AM DocBabs wrote:

Hi Julie, While i've only had my SN taken, I do play tennis. In fact I play competative tennis and I'll play my first post BMX match next Monday. I am now 9 weeks post -op, still having reconstruction with TEs.I was due to play in the Senior Olympics in Houston last month, on the 19th, but I was just recovering from 5 weeks of extreme fatigue and I  knew that I wasn't up to playing any sort of a match. I did end up hitting several times and it felt good. When i got back I arranged to play with some friends and I did very well, surprising both them and myself. I'm no longer tired so I have no more excuses. My PS told me 3 weeks ago that I had no restrictions and I could do anything that I felt up to doing. So yes, I am back playing.How long ago was your surgery? I'd check with either your surgeon or PS and see if they have any objections.Also, rather than switching, try using both hands on your forehand and backhand. I did that when I was recovering from my total shoulder replacement and felt that my arm wasn't quite as strong as I wanted it to be.It took a little adjusting for me as I don't normally used two hand on my backstroke but on the forehand side it felt like I was hitting a baseball.Hope you're back on the courts soon!!


DocBabs Dx 4/28/2011, IDC, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 5/13/2011 Lymph node removal: Right; Mastectomy: Left; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Surgery 5/13/2011 Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right Hormonal Therapy 7/15/2011 Aromasin (exemestane)
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Jul 14, 2011 10:01AM Binney4 wrote:

Julie, best bet would be to get a referral from any doctor on your team to a well-qualified lymphedema therapist for baseline arm measurements, personalized risk reduction tips, learning a gentle lymph massage that can encourage lymph flow, and fitting for a compression sleeve and glove or gauntlet (fingerless glove) that you can use prophylactically for exercise and travel.

When you start back to any kind of exercise you want to begin veeeeery slowly. If it's tennis you're after, start with just the arm, working up to just the racket (no balls), and go from there, over time. If you experience any achiness, heaviness, or just a "strange" feeling in your arm, stop at once and elevate your arm and rest. You can try again the next day, stopping before that point, and continue to work up more gradually. Stay well hydrated, as it helps move lymph fluid.

There is no "safe" amount of time after treatment -- the lymphedema risk remains for life. An all-clear from your surgeon or onc only means in terms of incision healing or fatigue. It's a rare doctor who knows enough about lymphedema risk to advise patients on that score. Which is why a well-trained lymphedema therapist is the go-to person for the kind of information you're looking for. Here's how to find one near you:

Fifteen nodes out does increase your statistical odds, but even one node is enough to result in lymphedema in some women (me, for oneTongue out!) You're really wise to be asking these questions. Wishing you a strong recovery and no "swell" days ever!

Be well,

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Jul 14, 2011 10:47AM kira wrote:

Julie, I gave up tennis--I developed LE three weeks out from surgery, with just 3 nodes taken. I'm left handed, and it's in my left hand/forearm. 

I was given a list of high risk activities, and tennis and golf were on them.

Prior to surgery, I played at least three times a week, and always had tennis elbow, and although my LE is under good control now--when I broke my hand and the OT had me use 1 lb weights at the wrist, my tennis elbow flared immediately.

I've thought about trying it again, and if I do, I'd do it slowly, as Binney wrote.

Now, I already have LE--brought on by bug bites when I was in a vulnerable state, but persistent, and you are attempting to avoid it. You don't want to impose unnecessary limits on yourself, but you do want to be informed.


Knowledge is the antidote to fear, Ralph Waldo Emerson Dx 5/10/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage IB, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 14, 2011 04:31PM Member_of_the_Club wrote:

Don't give up tennis.  You need to do the things you love.  But do take precautions.  Go to a lymphedema therapist and get fitted for compression garments.  The kind of effort involved in playing tennis coupled with the number of nodes you had removed does put you at heightened risk.  And it is true that your risk won't decline over time.  i developed LE 4.5 years after my surgery.  However, I continue to run and lift weights, I just do so wearing my compression garments.

 My LE therapist's attitude was that we shouldn't give up the things that "make our lives complete."  (I've always loved the phrase she used).  But we do need to be careful so you should seek and rely on a professional opinion.  Good luck and have fun!   

Dx 9/30/2004, IDC, 3cm, Stage IIB, Grade 2, 1/17 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 14, 2011 05:22PM SoCalLisa wrote:

I have played tennis all along..ten years LE,..but as always keeping fingers crossed..

Biography: DX 11/2000 LCIS,DCIS,IDC 2B, Grade 1, ER+,PR+ Her2Neg 1 pos node Lumptectomy, CMF chemo X 6 mos, DX 8/2001, IDC same breast--Mastectomy , Left Breast Lumpectomy... Tamoxifen, one year...Armidex, Four years

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