Survival swimming

26 Oct

Lately I have been experiencing tightness at my right armpit which is the location where two lymph nodes have been removed during the sentinel node biopsy. The sentinel node biopsy is a procedure which determines if cancer has spread from the source through the lymph nodes to other parts of the body.

I was very fortunate to be diagnosed as negative for the sentinel node biopsy. In fact, my breast surgeon, Dr. Wong CY only removed 2 lymph nodes for this procedure. For women who are less fortunate, all their lymph nodes would be removed if cancer cells have spread from these nodes.

A scar at the armpit does not really bother me that much, however I have gotten complacent over the last few months that I forgot to do my daily physiotherapy exercises. So I quite deserved it when the tightness came back; I was not able to lift up my right arm without feeling a really tight and strained nerve on the inner arm.

While looking online for lymphatic help (the sentinel node biopsy has an inherent risk of causing a swelling of the arm due to the insufficient lymph nodes), I came across a webpage which explained how a breast cancer survivor swam to alleviate her lymphedema. Not only does the swimming strokes help in stretching the arms, the gentle waves in the water also help to massage the lymphatic passages and thus enabling better lymphatic drainage.

I have since gone swimming three times last week and it has done wonders for my arm, not to mention the jolt of energy I need for combat of fatigue. It’s a great workout with many health benefits!


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