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.


California Girl said...

This is valuable information. We can all benefit.

I've heard antiperspirant warnings for many years. My husband won't buy them nor will my sons nor will I.

Not wearing a bra is a new one for me. I love taking off the bra but the nag in the back of my mind tells me I'm worsening the sag of my breasts. I am no longer listening. Thanks :)

Yoga is good for everything.

One of my best friends found her lump via self exam. I do it frequently although my breasts have a lot of tissue which can be confusing.

Thanks for the tips.

Pam @ over50feeling40 said...

This was excellent information..thanks...I think many women do not know or think of these things.

Sherry @ A Happy Valentine said...

Thank you for this post. Yet another reason to get back to my yoga sessions! I've been making my own deodorant for quite a while now ~ 1 part baking soda to 1 part cornstarch with a few drops of tea tree oil or essential oils added. And like you said, it took a little while for my body chemistry to adjust to it, but it works just fine now.

Wildernesschic said...

God I am so pleased that it was benign.. i have been through this but had to have several core biopsies due to irregular breast tissue and a lump..
I too am fine..
Although it was a horrendous experience.. I did not know about the antiperspirant nor the bra tip.. I leave mine on sometimes at night and that is so wrong ... thank you so much xx

déjà pseu said...

Glad to hear it was only a cyst! I've been through the same thing, and thank goodness for ultrasounds. Now I'm off to check the ingredients in my deodorant (which actually I find post-menopause I only need on the warmest or most potentially stressful days).

Anna Mavromatis said...

Wonderful tips and how even more wonderful the "news" on your last paragraph; congratulations!!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for sharing your experience and the advice you received. It's so valuable for all women. My mother developed breast cancer in her sixties but thankfully survived and her death at 87 wasn't cancer related. But having breast cancer in the family always makes us a little more anxious so your tips are much appreciated. Wonderful you had a happy ending - should really say, beginning!!

Pearl said...

I have extremely cystic breasts and had discomfort monthly during my period as well as mammogram "scares" for years before my doctor and I figured this out (!). In addition to your tips (all great, by the way), dial back on caffeine and salt: both make the body retain water, which adds to swelling/non-drainage. Decaf coffee and season salt solve the problem--as well as simply ingesting less.

hopflower said...

The news of a bad mammogram strikes terror in the hearts of all women. Glad to know it was just a cyst. And thank you for the great information. There is never too much we can do to be more aware about breast cancer.

Femme Curieuse said...

Glad to hear you're ok! I've been aware of the aluminum problem for years, but your post has prompted me to make the switch. Thanks for sharing this information!

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

I've had cystic breasts all my life and had surgery to remove a tumor which fortunately was benign.
I agree with all your suggestions especially Yoga for lymphatic drainage.

BTW when I gave up caffeine and most of my cysts went away.

Glad to read that your mammogram was clear.

kathy peck said...

What a relief - I can imagine your fright. I've always taken my bra off the minute I walk in the door, and actually, since I'm a painter, often take it off in the studio while painting, and put it on when I go out again. Post menopause I haven't needed a deodorant, and hadn't used one with aluminum for many years before that.
Yoga, is great for everything, including lymphatic drainage.
Thanks for a great post.

Joni said...

Thank you for sharing your story and tips, Marsi. Definitely invaluable information. I'm very glad that it was only a benign cyst and now gone. Phew!

SheilaLouise said...

Great post. So glad everything turned out well.

I love the bra in your photo....which brand is it.... I think I need one. Just love that look.

Lorrie said...

Great information. Thanks for sharing your story. So glad everything is okay.

LuxeBytes said...

Many thanks to everyone for your good wishes -- and to those of you who've had a similar experience, my best to you as well. My mother and stepmother are both breast cancer survivors (7+ years for both), and it's such a terrifying experience. Fortunately for us, the treatments have come SO far. If one is diagnosed with cancer, at least this is the best time in human history to have it because the chances of successful treatment are so good.

SheilaLouise, that bra is by La Perla, "Vintage Plissé" is the style name. Gorgeous indeed.

xoxo to all --

Fabrizia said...

I like your post so much! Thank you for sharing all these tips!
Take a look and if you want we can follow each others: Cosa mi metto???

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

Great post full of important information. What bra? I have not got one in the house LOL. Diane

RoseAG said...

That's interesting about bras discouraging drainage. I'm OK with that.

I'm not OK with lore that bras cause breast cancer.

webb said...

Interesting that so many mentioned post-menopause and needing less deodorant. I hadn't put that together, but think it's true for me, too.

In the States you might want to look at Tom's Natural products. Apparently the main active ingredient is hops - it seems to work well, and you get to wear your beer ... or something.

Linda said...

Excellent information. Really, this blog is wonderful!
Thank you.

Debora said...

I had a little scare a few years ago similar to yours...plugged milk ducts. As a result, I'm able to check off most of your suggestions. Need to do a little more yoga though. I'll be back for the stomach de-bloating piece!

helen tilston said...

Thank God you got a good report.

Whew, I can imagine your angst in the waiting period.

My nephew was visiting from London and on his return back to England bought several deodorants which were simply "deodorants" - he avoided the products that said "antiperspirant and deodorant" combined. We spent a long time in Target separating the deodorants

Thanks for this interesting post

Helen xx

Chris said...

I can't thank you enough for this post. Yes, I, too, have cystic breasts, a biopsy and my mom had breast cancer, albeit from which she did not pass away. I have made the switch to a non-aluminum deodorant and it is usually very adequate. I did not know about the bra complication and I will no longer wear one as often. I am wondering if an athletic bra is a better choice. I am so very glad at your diagnosis and successful outcome as I have lost friends to this terrible disease and I, for one, am doing as much as I can to serve my health in a better way. Yoga...here I come!
Bless you! Chris

Terri said...

This is invaluable info.

Carol said...

Marsi, so glad to hear your last mammogram was clear.. Great advice for those of us troubled by breast lumps, thank you

Maryl said...

I think we can all imagine how nerve wracking those five days must have been. I feel something similar just waiting in between film takes during my annual breast exam. I wrote about it last year and how to muddle through the current debate on how often and starting when to be tested, http://bit.ly/HkIcXT. Oh and I stopped using antiperspirants, which means aluminum, quite a while ago too. Just the idea of putting something that is absorbed by your pores that we're not suppose to cook off it seemed to be dangerous. My husband and I use plain Mennen Speed Stick and my daughter Tom's of Main aluminum-free deodorant. It's a challenge to find one without aluminum here in the US. If there are others, let us know. Thanks.

wranglerkate said...

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences, wisdom and knowledge with us. It's invaluable. And congratulations on the positive outcome!!

J. Beaudet said...

Thank you so much for this post! It is so important and sometimes can be so scary. This is such great information. I never thought antiperspirant would block the flow of lymph but it totally makes sense. I really need to start doing my yoga again. Thank you again for this.

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