Macmillan have just released the transcript of their Life After Cancer Web Chat which took place on the 10th September. Whether you were able to join the chat on the day or not you can now see all the questions and answers online. I was there on the day and was one of the people asking questions about Lymphoedema.
Hilary Weaver, a specialist nurse from the Macmillan Support Line, answered questions on the physical and emotional after-effects of cancer.
In terms of living with the risk of lymphoedema, they say that you know when you have done too much exercise or put too much strain on your arm. The problem with that is that it’s then too late – I’ve done too much and the damage is done. How can I possibly know when enough is enough without doing any harm? What are the warning signs?
Hilary: That’s a good question. The risk of lymphoedema is greater if you suddenly do an unusual amount of activity or lifting. The key is to build up slowly and consistently so that your arm has lots of time to adapt. It is possible to do vigorous exercise and weights without developing any problems but you need to work up to that very gradually and make it your norm! Don’t do too much too fast. You can find more information about coping with lymphoedema on the Macmillan website.
But when you have pain in your arm before you start, how do you know when to stop. It’s been 13 weeks since the surgery and I don’t know what the difference is between healing pain and lymphoedema pain.
Hilary: Your surgery was quite recent and it’s not unusual to still be healing up. Lymphoedema would be uncommon at this stage in your healing. Perhaps sticking to the post op exercises you’ve been given at this stage would be sensible. You could also talk to your specialist for more advice or a physiotherapist referral?
Does manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) help reduce the risk of lymphoedema?
We don’t know for sure that manual lymphatic drainage prevents lymphoedema. The research about this just isn’t very clear at the moment. MLD is more often used with other techniques to manage lymphoedema. You can read more about preventing lymphoedema and treating lymphoedema on our website.
You can read the full article here: Life After Cancer Web Chat