Massage Therapy

A message therapist will manipulate the skin, tendons and muscles to reduce tension and stress and induce relaxation. There are several types of massage that exist, some are light and some are deeper, using more pressure. Scientific research has discovered that certain types of massage can help cancer sufferers who experience pain, anxiety, fatigue and stress. With the help of a licensed, certified massage therapist, a patient can experience relief from any number of side effects that occur as a result of cancer treatment.


Aromatherapy involves the use of essential oils either infused into the air or applied to the skin to relieve the pain, nausea and stress that comes from receiving chemo. Scents like lavender or vanilla have been shown to significantly reduce stress levels and provide a cancer patient with an overall sense of calm and peace.
Aromatherapy can be practiced with the help of a practitioner, or on your own. The treatment is safe, though it is important to note that some essential oils can cause an allergic reaction if placed directly on the skin.


Walking is the easiest way to remain active. Some of the benefits of regular walking:
  • Reduces Cancer Reccurence
  • Burns Off Calories
  • Refreshes The Mood
  • Eases Anxiety And Reduces Depression
  • Gives A Chance To Share Thoughts With Peer Group


    Chemo drugs make you so weak that you may not be able to balance yourself while walking. The balancing exercises given below will help you gain stability while walking.

    Repeat 2-4 times
    This workout helps to regain balance
    perform once or twice a day


  • Stand straight, Move your left leg towards left and stand with legs app 1 ft apart.
  • Cross your left foot with the right one.
  • Step out with your left foot.
  • Cross again with your right foot.
  • Continue 5 times. Repeat the same way in the opposite direction.
  • Increase the number of steps after a week or 10 days as you feel better.

  • Tips
  • Balance yourself with every step.
  • Focus on your posture. You should stand straight.
  • Look straight in front during the exercise, NOT downwards.
  • Relax your arms at your sides.


  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, app 1 ft apart.
  • Place your arms on the floor at your sides with palms facing upwards.
  • Squeeze your buttocks and lift your hips up.
  • Hold and count up to 3. Lower your hips and count up to 3.

  • Tips
  • Lift up only as high as you easily can.
  • Keep your spine (back) straight.
  • Do this exercise comfortably.
  • Do Not perform this exercise if you have a back ache.

  • Repeat 10 times
    perform 1-3 times a day

    Repeat 2-4 times
    on each leg
    An excellent balancing exercise
    perform once or twice a day

    Single Leg Stance

  • Stand straight.
  • Stand straight.Lift one foot slightly off the floor.
  • Hold for 5-20 sec.
  • Repeat on the other leg.

  • Tips
  • Look straight in front during the exercise.
  • In case of difficulty hold on to a chair or wall.

    Overhead Clasped Hands Stretch

  • Stand or sit with your feet slightly apart.
  • Clasp your hands in front with palms facing outwards.
  • Slowly lift your arms upwards, up to the point of tightness.
  • Hold for 5-10 sec. Slowly return to the starting position.

  • Tips
  • Look straight in front during the exercise.
  • In case of difficulty hold on to a chair or wall.

  • Repeat 2-3 times
    perform 1-2 times a day

    Repeat 2-4 times
    perform once or twice a day

    Full Body Stretch

  • Lie on your back with your arms relaxed at your sides. Bend your knees.
  • Place your feet flat on the floor app hip width apart.
  • Slide your legs forward as far as they extend comfortably.
  • Slowly lift both the arms overhead.
  • Lower your arms behind your head until they touch the floor.
  • Hold the stretch for 5-20 sec. Slowly return to the starting position.

  • Tips
  • Look straight in front during the exercise.
  • In case of difficulty hold on to a chair or wall.

    Single Arm Overhead Stretch

  • Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Keep the feet apart by app 1 ft.
  • Hold your affected arm near the wrist with the other hand.
  • Slowly lift the affected arm up reaching over the head as far as possible.
  • Hold for 5 – 20 sec at the point of tightness.
  • Perform 2 – 4 times and then repeat with the other arm.

  • Tips
  • Breathe normally throughout.
  • Perform once or twice a day.
  • If you face trouble with affected arm then you may place pillow near that shoulder. Try to remove the pillow after a few days.

  • Repeat 2-3 times
    perform 1-2 times a day

    Repeat 2-4 times
    on each side
    perform once or twice a day

    Supine Torso Rotation

  • Lie on your back. Keep your knees bent and feet together, flat on the floor.
  • Open your arms on the sides below shoulder level with palms up
  • Gently pull in your stomach and lower both knees together on one side of the floor. Move your head in the opposite direction simultaneously and hold for 5-20 sec.
  • Slowly bring your head and legs back to the centre
  • Lower the legs to the other side and head to the opposite side. Hold for 5-20 sec.
  • Slowly return to the starting position

  • Tips
  • Keep your shoulder relaxed
  • Stretch only up to the point of tightness
  • Breathe normally during the exercise

    Crunch With Leg Extended And Rotation

  • Lie on your back. Bend your right knee with foot flat on the floor
  • Keep your left leg straight
  • Place your right hand on your right thigh
  • Slowly move your head up and slide your left hand towards the bent knee
  • Hold and count up to 5. Slowly return to the starting position
  • Repeat with your left knee bent and right leg extended

  • Tips
  • Lift your head and move your hand slowly only as much as you can
  • Pull your belly button in
  • Lift yourself from your abdominal muscles
  • Increase the number of crunches after a week or 10 days

  • Repeat 10 times
    on each side
    perform 1-3 times a day

    Lift your heels 5-10 times
    Help to regain balance
    perform 2-3 times

    Heel Raises

  • stand with feet apart
  • Lift your heels. Balance and hold this position up to 5 counts
  • Bring your heels down and hold up to 3 counts

  • Tips
  • While lifting your heels try to balance yourself evenly on both feet
  • In case of difficulty hold on to a chair or wall
  • Breathe normally throughout

    Opposite Arm & Leg Raise

  • Kneel on all fours (both knees and elbows)
  • Align your head straight with the spine
  • Simultaneously (at the same time) take your left arm in front
  • Try to get your arm and opposite leg parallel to the floor
  • Slowly return to the starting position
  • Repeat on the other side

  • Tips
  • If you find it difficult then begin with right arm, then left arm and then with each leg separately
  • Do not move your head during the workout
  • While stretching yourself think that someone is pulling your arm and leg

  • Repeat 10 times
    on each side
    perform 1-3 times a day

    Lymphedema Management

    Laugh And Defeat The Beast

    Author : Rosemary Kelly

    [Rosemary Kelly LLi/t, CLYL has been working with cancer patients for about a decade now, educating them about Lymphedema. Please visit her websites and, She is based in Ontario, Canada, but is willing to work anywhere!

    What is Lymphedema?

    Lymphedema is a swelling of a body part as a result of fluid accumulation due to damage to the Lymphatic system. It is a chronic, progressive, disfiguring condition that if left untreated, can lead to changes in the skin and its underlying tissues, causing deterioration and infection. Lymphedema can affect anyone: men, women or children. Lymphedema is more commonly seen in the limbs but can also occur in the face, neck, back, groin or chest wall (which may be difficult to treat if there has been breast reconstruction).

    There is no cure, but it is treatable and manageable. Early stages are reversible, which means that the swelling can be brought down, but there is always a risk for progression, so it must be monitored and managed all the time.

    Lymphedema is classified in two ways: Primary or Secondary. Primary Lymphedema is a condition that you are born with and it can manifest at birth or appear later during puberty, for example, or it might be triggered by pregnancy. It occurs when lymph vessels are too few, non-functioning or absent.

    Secondary Lymphedema is a disruption of lymphatic flow caused by surgery, radiation (the major causes in North America) also by trauma, tumors, immobility / paralysis, obesity, chronic venous insufficiency. In tropical countries it is most often caused by infection / filariasis caused by a parasite.

    In either case, when the amount of lymphatic fluid exceeds lymphatic transport capacity, protein-rich fluid collects in interstitial tissue (the tissue between the cells). Disrupted vessels create blockages and reduce lymph transport capacity.

    This gives rise to pain, disfigurement, swelling, degree of loss of functionality, high risk for infection on the affected side/quadrant of the body. Subsequently, oxygen availability is reduced to the tissues. Wound healing is compromised, providing a ‘welcoming’ culture medium for bacteria, there is a risk of cycle of infection: lymphangitis / cellulitis.

    This is why it is so important to avoid overloading an already weakened system by having blood drawn or blood pressure taken from the affected side. Use your unaffected side (arm) for these procedures or, in the case of a double mastectomy, you may wish to have blood drawn from your leg.

    Sometimes, because of a similar sounding name, Lymphedema is confused with Lymphoma, but they are not the same. Lymphoma is a cancer of the Lymphatic System.

    The Lymphedema & Cancer treatment link

    How are these two linked?
    In North America we are seeing the highest incidences of Secondary Lymphedema resulting as a side effect of life saving cancer treatment: risk occurs with removal of lymph nodes and increases if radiation is part of the treatment course.

    Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped, soft nodules. They cannot usually be seen or easily felt. Lymph nodes produce immune cells that help the body fight infection. They also filter the lymph fluid and remove foreign material such as bacteria and cancer cells. When bacteria are recognized in the lymph fluid, the lymph nodes produce more infection-fighting white blood cells, causing the nodes to swell. There is no specific number of nodes, it varies with every individual.

    [Controlled Arm Lymphedema a patient (breast cancer survivor) wears her compression sleeve in order to keep the swelling down] If a person has had lymph nodes removed and undergone Radiation Therapy, he or she is at lifetime risk of Lymphedema.

    [Controlled Leg Lymphedema This Ovarian Cancer survivor is an active walker & swimmer. She wears her compression stocking to help control her Lymphedema] Some will never show signs of Lymphedema, others will experience signs and symptoms within weeks, months or years after surgery or radiation.

    Lymphedema Risk Reduction Practices

    The National Lymphedema Network, is an American based organization and website that is filled with excellent information. This is their position paper on ‘Lymphedema Risk Reduction Practices’.
    Position Statement Of The National Lymphedema Network
    [By NLN Medical Advisory Committee; Approved by the NLN Board of Directors]

    Skin Care
    Avoid trauma/injury and reduce infection risk.
    Keep extremity clean and dry.
    Apply moisturizer daily to prevent chapping/chaffing of skin
    Attention to nail care: do not cut cuticles. Protect exposed skin with sunscreen and insect repellent
    Use care with razors to avoid nicks and skin irritation.
    If possible, avoid punctures such as injections and blood draws.
    Wear gloves while doing activities that may cause skin injury (i.e., gardening, working with tools, using chemicals such as detergent)
    If scratches/punctures to skin occur, wash with soap and water, apply antibiotics, and observe for signs of infection (i.e. redness)
    If a rash, itching, redness, pain, increased skin temperature, fever or flu-like symptoms occur, contact your physician immediately
    Activity / Lifestyle
    Gradually build up the duration and intensity of any activity or exercise
    Take frequent rest periods during activity to allow for limb recovery
    Monitor the extremity during and after activity for any change in size, shape, tissue, texture, soreness, heaviness or firmness
    Maintain optimal weight.
    Avoid limb constriction
    If possible, avoid having blood pressure taken on the at risk arm.
    Wear loose fitting jewelry and clothing.
    Compression Garments
    Should be well-fitting
    Support the at risk limb with a compression garment for strenuous activity (i.e. weight lifting, prolonged standing, running)
    Wear a well-fitting compression garment for air travel. (sleeve/glove(gauntlet) unit)
    Extremes of Temperature
    Avoid exposure to extreme cold, which can be associated with rebound swelling, or chapping of skin
    Avoid prolonged (> 15 minutes) exposure to heat, particularly hot tubs and saunas
    Avoid immersing limb in water temperatures above 102° F
    Additional practices specific to lower extremity lymphedema
    Avoid prolonged standing or sitting or crossing legs
    Wear proper, well-fitting footwear & hosiery
    Support the at risk limb with a compression garment for strenuous activity except in patients with open wounds or with poor circulation in the at risk limb
    *** You may choose to wear a Lymphedema medical alert bracelet or necklace
    Lymphedema Care

    Lymphedema is too often mis-diagnosed. Many doctors are unfamiliar with the lymphatic system and dismiss symptoms as “just swelling” until the condition is so severe it cannot be reversed.
    Patients themselves must be their own advocates: informed, vigilant, perseverant and ready to educate fellow patients and medical professionals.
    The people you might consult regarding your concerns around Lymphedema are vascular surgeons and well trained MLD (Manual Lymphatic Drainage) massage therapists.
    Lymphedema prevention and management exists within Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) which is led by highly trained MLD therapists. There are many schools of MLD and you may have heard of the original Vodder Schule in Austria or others that followed: Norton, Upledger, Klose, Academy of Lymphatic Studies, Chikly, Casley-Smith, Földi and Leduc and others.
    Though officially, Nutrition is not part of CDT, correct diet and maintaining a good PH balance will take the strain off your lymphatic system. There are distinct health advantages to consuming mainly vegetables and fruits for a huge variety of health concerns. Many people advocate a Raw Vegan diet for optimum health. You will have to do your own research and decide what is best for you and your own medical conditions. You may wish to visit this website:

    Lymphedema prevention strategies and management follow a five point plan of CDT, beginning with:


    Skin and Nail Care, because of the risk of infection as detailed in the Lymphedema Risk Reduction Practices list.

    MLD (Manual Lymphatic Drainage) - this massage technique is very effective in reducing swelling. It differs from ordinary massage as it is very gentle and encourages movement of lymph. The aim of the massage is to stimulate or move the excess fluid away from the swollen area so that it can drain away normally. MLD massage also encourages and improves drainage in the healthy lymphatics. As this is a specialized form of massage, it should be given only by an accredited therapist who has completed a minimum of 135 hours of training.

    Bandaging / Wrapping and Compression - Very simply put: in order to help reduce the swelling in an arm (for example) affected with Lymphedema, the MLD therapist will massage and then bandage the arm from the fingers all the way up, in order to assist the lymphatic system move the lymph towards the heart. Eventually, once the swelling is reduced, the patient will be fitted with a compression garment (sleeve & gauntlet for arm or stocking for leg) which should be worn every day to keep the swelling down.

    Correct remedial Exercise, Deep Breathing / Laughter - The Lymphatic system relies on muscle expansion (movement) and deep breathing to propel the lymph fluid towards the heart. The lymphatic system does not have a pump, like the heart, to move the lymph through the system, instead the lymphatic system works on inertia.The thoracic duct, located behind the lungs, is the largest organ in the lymphatic system and is best stimulated by laughter which augments deep breathing and uses the stomach muscles to create the healthy pressure and release that moves the lymph fluid, thus strengthening your immune system.

    Exercise, done soon after surgery, must balance the need for movement and gentle limited stretching with the caution of not overloading or fatiguing an already weakened system. It is important to follow an exercise program post surgery that has been modified or created specifically for the cancer patient at risk from Lymphedema. If you are planning to do Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Zumba, anything, please inform your teacher about your medical history and ask them what they know about Lymphedema. It is important that your exercise program is modified to reduce your Lymphedema risk.

    Research has shown that diaphragmatic (deep) breathing creates a negative pressure within the thorax, literally sucking lymph into the duct which is then shot out into the rest of the body at up to 15 times the normal flow of lymph. The idea is to MOVE….move your body, move your breath. Any muscular movement will stimulate the flow of lymph, but laughter augments it. Dr Michael Foldi, the world’s leading Lymphologist, based in Germany, says that the best exercise for Lymphedema patients and for those at risk, if they could only do one is deep breathing.

    In India, Dr Guruprasad Aggithaya M.D. ( Ayu.) has developed a comprehensive and inspirational Lymphedema program that is enjoying wonderful results through the Institute of Applied Dermatology (IAD)

    Deceptively simple and disarmingly fun, LL is a program that focuses on Lymphedema education, prevention and management. It consists of movement set to music, done safely with chairs always used for rest and balance. Props are used for most exercises bringing an element of fun to each routine. Participants are encouraged to go at their own pace and to stay within their own Range of Motion, in order to avoid pain and injury. Laughter exercises are incorporated into the routines, based on India's own Dr Madan Kataria’s Laughter Yoga. There is no sequence to memorize, which is always a boon for anyone suffering from chemo brain. There is no anxiety if you miss a class.