Monday, March 07, 2011

Massage Monday: Breast Cancer Awareness

Before you read on, just know that today's topic may be sensitive to some.
Breast cancer is something that can effect everyone. There is a common misconception that men cannot get breast cancer, but this untrue. It is true though, that men do get it less frequently than women. In October you can see the pink ribbons of Breast Cancer Awareness month everywhere, but is this something we should only think about once a year? I don't think so, so that is why I have decided to make breast tissue health the focus of today's post.
There are several preventative measures that people, particularly women, can take in order to reduce the chances of getting breast cancer. The first most important one is communication and awareness. When I was a young teenager-I think they are called Tweenies now-my Mom sat down and talked to me about breast cancer and what I needed to do in order to either prevent or catch it before it was too late. I feel that this openness on my Mom's part made me comfortable in discussing it and even in researching breast tissue health. I remember broaching the subject with friends in university once and many of them being uncomfortable talking about it. Me being me, kept pushing the subject and it soon came out that most of the women who were uncomfortable, had not had the opportunity to talk about it when they were girls. Not talking about breast tissue health does not make breast cancer go away. It's not one of those things where if you don't talk about it then it doesn't exist.
The next important preventative measure is something that most women have been introduced by physicians, nurses and maybe even their Sex Education teachers; the self examination. Not all breast cancer can be caught through self examination, but it definitely improves the odds. Who else knows your body better than you? If you're uncomfortable with it, that is fine. It's not a subject you need to bring up at the dinner table,
"So I did my monthly self exam today..."
It doesn't have to be that blatant. The bottom line is, just do it.
The next preventative measure is still under going research, but it's something to consider. Some research would suggest that the under wires on bras restrict the lymphatic system, clogging it and contributing to breast cancer. The lymphatic system is a very sensitive system that can actually be addressed through lymphatic drainage techniques that a massage therapist can perform. The therapist would most likely have taken a course specific to lymphatic drainage. The lymphatic system is incredibly important in immunity and protecting the body from foreign organisms that would otherwise make us sick. The system is so sensitive that feather light strokes moving towards the heart can get the fluid moving and remove any lymphatic blockages. There are a lot of lymph nodes in and around the breast tissue, right where the under wire of bras would compress. If the system is so sensitive that feather light strokings can move the fluid, can you imagine what a bra's under wire does to the lymph vessels squishing it 10 to 12 hours a day?
As I have said above, this is new research and it may not be a belief you subscribe to, but it is something to think about. I personally agree with the research and switched to wireless bras. Victoria Secret and La Sensa carry very nice wireless bras that you could even wear under party dresses. Wireless does not mean sports bra or unsexy. :)
When you are exercising, or sitting in a sauna sweating it out, experts suggest wearing wireless bras or workout tops with the built in bras. Exercise and even sweating in a sauna, are ways to get your lymphatic system moving. If you are wearing a restricting bra, the breast tissue is not able to flush out the old lymphatic fluid and bring in healthy, new lymphatic fluid. Some even go so far as to say that you shouldn't wear a bra at all when exercising, but for some people-me included, especially if I am out in public-that is not an option. Ultimately, it comes down to what you are comfortable with.
Using a Rebounder-or mini trampoline-can actually also be helpful in flushing lymphatic fluid throughout your body. All that is reuired is you standing on the trampoline and bouncing: you don't even have to jump! The bouncing contracts your muscles which in turn squishes the lymphatic vessels and nodes. This on again off again pressure assists with the flow of the lymphatic fluid. If you someone who holds a lot of water, this also helps with that. By shunting the lymphatic fluid along, your breast tissue is again receiving that new lymphatic fluid.
The last preventative measure that is extremely effective, but the majority of women will not be comfortable with this, is breast massage. I bet you were wondering when I would get to the massage part right? Well, here it is. At the college I attended, we were taught the proper technique for breast massage. The students had to learn the theoretical aspects, but were not forced to perform or receive breast massage. I opted to do both. I was nervous and a little weirded out, but I figured that if it was ever something a client asked me to do, I wanted to know what it felt like and how to do it properly. I picked two of my classmates that I was comfortable with and who were incredibly professional. They were also both women. Strangely enough, once the massage started, I relaxed more and even almost fell asleep. There are many ways the breast massage can be performed and it is all up to the client's preference.
The massage can be performed over the sheets or without sheets. The therapist is never to touch the nipple and the client can also purchase "nipple covers" if that makes them feel more comfortable. One of our classmates was extremely nervous, but wanted to participate for the same reasons I did, so she got smiley face stickers and covered up with those.
If you opt to get a breast massage the massage therapist should have a separate consent form for you to sign. This form protects both you and the therapist. That said, this form and your signature, does not give the therapist license to do whatever they want. As I have said, breast massage, and massage for that matter, is for your benefit and should be performed within your comfort zone.
Breast massage can also help women, or men, who have had removal of breast tissue. Scar tissue forms after surgery and can restrict arm movement and also damage or constrict the lymph nodes in the breast/under arm areas. Massage can reduce scar adhesions and keep lymph fluid moving despite damaged lymphatic vessels. The breast massage will not completely remove scar tissue or regrow lymph nodes. It is a therapy not a cure.
If you are a woman who gets very sore breasts before menstruation, breast massage can be incredibly beneficial for you. The massage basically moves the congestion out of the tissue and brings nutrient rich fluid into the area. This congestion is what causes the tenderness. If you are a woman whose family has a history of breast cancer, then breast massage can be beneficial for you.If you are someone whose shoulders roll forward, then breast massage can help you as well. There are strong muscles under the breast tissue that pulls your shoulders forward. Having those muscles released can reduce pain and muscle tension. If breast massage is a little bit too out there for you, the mini trampoline and wireless bras may be more fathomable alternatives.
In conclusion, breast tissue health is important whether it is October or not and taking preventative steps-whether it is breast massage, wireless bras, self examination, bouncing on mini trampolines-will all improve your breast tissue's health.


Frankie Furter said...

Very interesting and important info. I noticed that you didn't mention the dreaded MASH-O-GRAM. hehehe

3 doxies said...

Dis is an incredib le post! Girl, you is awesome to post dis. Mum takes breast health very serious prolly cuz everything happens to us...hehehe. Howevers, I has 6 boobs so could you imagine dat? Seriously...just trying to lighten da mood.
Dis is aserious topic dat should be taken as so.


Jess and Glacier said...

Franky: No I didn't because to be honest I don't know much about them and didn't want to give anyone false information. I guess I should have done more research eh? LOL Did you know that they are training dogs to detect different types of cancers now? Breast cancer is one that the dogs are extremely accurate at finding. It's better than other horrible pokey painful procedures.
Puddles: LMAO! You crack me up. Thanks-I Didn't know how people would feel about it, but as you said, it's an important topic. And don't worry-I'm sure you can find someone to massage six boobs. LOL