Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Staying Abreast of Another Draining Situation

Been there, done that.
My darling Marsi is back today with part two of her drainage series.

Last year, I flunked my mammogram with flying colors, when a lump the size of a walnut showed up on one of my films.

Five slow days of agony passed between the phone call and my diagnostic ultrasound with the radiologist -- five days of whistling past the hospital and telling myself "It's nothing. It's nothing! No, really. It's nothing. Nothing at all!" while doing my best to avoid All Things Google.

Turns out, it was nothing more than a benign cyst filled with lymphatic fluid. Big ... but benign.

My radiologist said she could aspirate it right then and there -- if the goal was to have a "good-looking mammogram." But her preference was to let nature take its course and allow my body to reabsorb the cyst on its own -- with a little help.

Because cystic breasts and atypical mammogram results are not uncommon among women of a certain age, I want to share my radiologist's recommendations for caring for breasts through lymphatic drainage.

Massage Your Breasts

The least salacious graphic I could find for breast massage.
My radiologist's top tip for non-surgical cyst drainage and overall breast health is self-massage. Getting the lymphatic fluid moving on the daily would greatly help in my body's ability to reabsorb that massive cyst. I followed these instructions every morning in the shower for about six weeks after my ultrasound. It's optimal to do this several days a week, if not daily. It only takes a couple of minutes in the shower.

Use Non-Aluminum Deodorants

This one's convenient and works well.
I also sometimes use the rock crystal that must be dampened with water.
Same effect.
My radiologist says that aluminum-based antiperspirants work by blocking the sweat ducts, which exist to release toxins from our body. Although the connection between antiperspirants and breast cancer is yet inconclusive, it's still worrisome enough to her that she recommends avoiding all preparatations containing aluminum. She suggested I try deodorants containing other mineral salts, such as potassium or ammonium, that do not block the sweat ducts or enter the bloodstream.

Since I'm among friends here, I'll be honest: I get a bit schvitz-y, even with antiperspirants. So naturally, I was reluctant to dial down the protection against wetness even further -- but not as reluctant as I was to re-live the ordeal of another failed mammogram, so I gave the crystal method a try. It took about a week for my body to adjust, and I think the crystal formulas actually work better for my chemistry.


Deadly, in more ways than one.
She also suggested that, whenever possible, I not wear a bra at home. She said that while breast support is important, it comes at a price. Proper support requires a snug band (and oftentimes underwires), which constricts the easy passage of lymphatic fluid through our chest to the lymph nodes in our underarms. Just a few braless hours at home give your body the break it needs to do its job.

Do Yoga

Healthy breasts: are we reaching for the stars here? 
All of those arm raises and balances don't just strengthen muscle tone. They direct lymphatic fluids toward the lymph nodes for filtering as well.

Do you get the idea that there's nothing yoga (and these kitties) won't do? Me, too.

I hope you'll be back next week, when I'll be talking about de-bloating the tummy.

* * *

Oh, and by the way -- I had my routine mammogram and ultrasound two months ago. No sign of the cyst! I love a happy ending.

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