One of the biggest possible side effects of cancer treatment is the risk of lymphedema (LE). Unlike many of the other side effects, this one is for life. If you had lymph nodes removed, irradiated, or tested from your neck, axilla, or groin as part of your treatment, you run the risk of developing LE.
I see it as my responsibility to help educate clients about LE. What it is, what it does, and how I can help support the work of a Complete Decongestive Therapist (CDT)* with Manual Lymphatic Drainage. But I think my most important job is to educate clients on how to minimize their risk of triggering it. The National Lymphedema Network’s position paper on LE risk reduction is the number one resource that I give to all oncology clients who may be at risk for developing LE. You can check it out for yourself here.
It is a long document. I find it a little overwhelming to read through sometimes, and I have no reason to worry about developing LE personally. Sometimes I feel almost, well, guilty for sending people who are already stressed out and overwhelmed a link to this big document. As if I’m overburdening their system with information, the same as I could do if my massage were too forceful.
I squash those worries by thinking of my nightmare scenario: someone coming to me with LE saying, “If only I would have known…”. I warn people that it’s a long document, and to read it in pieces if need be. But I’m going to give it to every single person I see who might need it. And recommend that they check out the rest of NLN’s website. Because there is so much information about the topic, and I hope that people find comfort and empowerment there too.
*As a Certified Manual Lymphatic Drainage Therapist I do not meet the minimum basic standards to treat someone with LE. I am trained and qualified to give MLD to someone with LE, but they need to be under the supervision of a CDT to get exercise, bandaging, and other therapy. This is my dream certification, but I need a to achieve a pretty high level of success in my business before I can justify going for it. The blog post announcing that will require GIFs. Really big, sparkly ones, and a space background (and a midi-player, I will transform this blog into a 90’s website when I’m ready celebrate signing up to take that class).