Choices during and after breast cancer

Cancers are evolving at a wide spread level quicker it seems, than can be medically or mentally dealt with. Whether it be this undesirable evolution or our recent jumps in medical technologies and advancements is anyone’s opinion, but there is no denying, cancer is extremely difficult to face, digest and come to terms with. We have many situations during our lives that are often not easy, but we address them in our day to day lives. Marriage, children, employment, or lack of, social acceptance or loneliness are but a few examples. In the latter, however, we have some degree of choice in our predicament.

A diagnosis of cancer, in specific breast cancer for us today, is not something you had a choice in. Now you will have to make choices in reference to “what are you going to do about your cancer, and how will you go about it?”

Firstly, go for a second, third, or even fourth opinion. Doctors are not Demi Gods and can, and do make mistakes, and no, your oncologist will not be able to tell you exactly why you developed breast cancer. Do your research yourself along with your physicians. You may choose to change your diet, quit smoking or drinking alcohol, change your physical or mental environment, or take up exercise if you were otherwise not involved. Choose to involve yourself, after all, it is your life that is in danger, not your doctor’s. Easier said than done, but if you can approach your situation in the healthiest manner possible you will have so much more to gain, both physically and mentally.

Once you have your mind in a positive space, have calculated all of your options and have undergone your surgical and post surgical adjuvant therapies, it is high time to get your health back on track. Return to your exercise regime, or begin one. Exercising will not only get your body (and I like to stress entire body) functioning properly again, but your mind will have a release from the tensions of your prior therapies. Start Slow! I like to recommend walking, swimming and a Pilates Post Rehabilitation Program. Walking and swimming can be done without a coach, but for the Pilates Post Rehabilitation Program, you will need an instructor with Post Rehabilitation qualifications. Again, choose your instructor with care. Once that is settled, your coach should plan out a program specifically designed for your individual needs. You can later supplement your program by adding a few of the exercises I have added below, to explore in the comfortable environment of your home.

The SPIDER WALK and GOAL POST are for stretching the surrounding muscles of the breast and axilla areas. The spider walk can be done either in front, the sides, or both facades of your body. Slowly walk your hand up a wall like a spider. Hold your spot where you feel a pull or stretch, and then walk your hand back down. Perform this stretch approximately six times in each direction. Never stretch to the point of extreme pain. Regaining stretch and strength will take some time. See photos below.

The goal post is best done lying supine but can also be done standing. Your arms will be bent at the elbows creating a right angle. Gradually slide the arms upward on the floor, against a wall or free standing, and hold when you feel a pull or stretch. Again, never over stretch or begin exercising too early, as you may damage the work that has been done by your surgeons in that area. Breathe into the sides and back of your thoracic region. Additionally, float your forearms up to the ceiling and downwards towards the floor, either alternatively or simultaneously for further shoulder and scapular mobility. Remember that not all of the exercises recommended can be achieved by all of you, due to various remaining conditions after surgery.

Lastly, I recommend the PUSH OUTS for strengthening the muscles around the breast, shoulder and axilla areas. This exercise simply involves a standing push up against a wall and can be done with either both or one arm to the front, and then with the single arm to the side. The same strengthening procedure can be done by rolling a soft Overball or soft Gym ball between the forearms with a gentle squeeze.

I hope you can find personal satisfaction in taking your cancer in your own hands as well as your doctor’s. Once you are finished with your surgeons, you will be on your own, so I encourage you to strive hard in your selection of choices as best as you can to assist yourself in facing and combating your cancer.

Spider Walk

Push Outs

Goal Post


Heidi Wright is certified in Pilates Mat, Allegro, Studio and Post Rehabilitation with Polestar Pilates and Pilates elder Lolita San Miguel. She is also a member and certified instructor with Pilates Method Alliance and a Post Rehabilitation practitioner with Pink Ribbon.

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