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Massage and Lymph Drainage for Breast Cancer Survivors

Massage amidst a cancer diagnosis and treatment? Yes! That’s right…

Hi, I’m Amanda – Lymphoedema Practitioner and Oncology Massage Therapist and I’ve helped hundreds of women navigate the often-overwhelming cancer experience through specialty massage, education and self-care.

Even after years in practice I am still amazed by how these treatments enhance quality of life throughout the cancer experience, regardless of diagnosis. Women now more than ever, are proactively looking for support to better manage their often lengthy and various cancer treatments so that they can return to wellness as soon as possible.

So How Can Massage help? Let me take you through some modalities that can enhance your recovery:

We all know that wellness should integrate mind, body and spirit – and this matters a lot when it comes to recovery. On the first visit we take a thorough health history and talk about challenges, symptoms and goals. From there we can provide the right type of treatment such as lymphatic drainage, oncology and scar tissue massage.

This is supported by a strong focus on education, self-care and resources to guide my clients through any potential setbacks, fluctuations, symptom progression and often helping to overcome barriers to exercise, physical function as well as intimacy and body issues.

Usually clients will come to see me soon after having a mastectomy or lumpectomy and we’ll go over key things: the lymphatic system and possible swelling (oedema) at the arm and breast, scarring, the fascial system, regaining normal range of motion from the shoulder, easy initial exercises.

Next I want to look at the scar. By looking at the colour, vascularity, thickness, temperature etc. I can then judge how to best treat it. It can take up to two years for scars to heal fully and during this time it is common to develop cording and adhesions. Even if you’ve worked with the most skilled surgeon, scar tissue forms as part of the natural healing process and can create discomfort at the chest wall and under arm, creating sensitivity or discomfort when wearing bras, prosthesis and even clothing.

I routinely work with women who dare not look at themselves, and those who find it difficult to wash and even touch their scars. For this reason, scar care is very important. Scar tissue massage is usually very gentle, it may feel slightly tender in some areas but on the whole feels really good. Surgical scars of any age respond immediately and are followed by continued improvement.

During the first few sessions both manual lymphatic drainage and scar tissue massage are incorporated. Lymphatic Drainage encourages the skin and the connective tissue to loosen and lymph fluid flows more easily, allowing swelling to reduce and the feeling of tension relieved.

The warm touch of the hand triggers the healing process on many different levels, takes away fear, helps to acknowledge the scar and can facilitate a re-connection to the body creating a sense of calm. Clients often experience feeling “whole” again and other unexpected outcomes such as body acceptance, a return of sensuality and even overcoming intimacy issues.

Another speciality type of body work which is gaining in popularity is Oncology Massage. This gentle massage is offered for those (but not limited to) in active treatment phases and promotes deep restoration and relaxation. The emphasis of the session is placed on being fully present to your needs, allowing you to feel safe, nurtured and offering the space for you to simply “be”. Oncology massage can also be timed during chemotherapy and radiation cycles to help reduce the side effects of treatment such as reduced brain fog, relief from nausea and discomfort.

Many clients who experience oncology massage are often surprised by the depth of relaxation and experience other benefits such as improved energy levels, restfulness and emotional well-being.

Read to enhance your recovery? Save time and book online. Amanda offers treatments in a private clinic setting in Bangalow, New South Wales. 

For more information visit recoverymassage or call reception on: (02) 8001 6393.

About the Author: Amanda Da-Silva is a passionate Lymphoedema Practitioner and Oncology Massage Therapist who has supported hundreds of women through breast and gynecological cancer recovery. Amanda has a special interest in scarring and oedema and loves seeing her clients move with more freedom, confidence and live with renewed boldness.

Lymphoedema… What You Need to Know!

by Amanda 0 Comments

What is Lymphoedema? Are you At Risk?

In Australia the main cause of Lymphoedema, occurs after treatment for cancer, when lymph nodes are removed from the body by surgery or through damage by radiotherapy.

Lymphoedema is medically defined as a symptom of an underlying malfunction of the lymphatic system.

Lymphoedema is not the same as swelling that immediately follows surgery or injury, as some swelling is a natural part of the bodies healing process. It is a persistent and gradual build up of fluid to an area of the body. For example Lymphoedema may affect the arm after surgery, lymph node removal and/ or treatment to the nodes in the arm pit.

Secondary Lymphoedema can develop months, or even years after treatment for cancer, and usually develops gradually over time.The risk for developing Lymphoedema is higher for people who have several lymph nodes removed, and those who have both surgery and radiotherapy.

Most people who have surgery and node removal will not develop lymphoedema however it is important to self examine potential areas at risk of lymphoedema and be aware of any changes or persistent swelling.

There are some actions that you can take to reduce your risk of developing Lymphoedema or to help the condition from getting worse.

1. Keep active, and also take rest.

It is recommended that you follow a gentle exercise routine. Not all exercise is created equal when dealing with lymphedema. Gentle, low impact and consistent exercise is best. Don’t overexert yourself, start where you are and slowly build up.

Activities such as swimming, walking, yoga, cycling and light body strengthening are considered to be beneficial for reducing your risk of developing lymphoedema.

2. Support Your Lymphatic System

Avoid activities that will put extra strain on your lymphatic system such as

Be sure to wear comfortable clothing, including shoes and jewellery.

Garments that are too tight and cut off circulation can hinder natural lymphatic flow.

Be sure to avoid hot baths, saunas and spas as heat is known to exasperate swelling. Keep cool during hot weather and avoid getting sunburn to the affected area.

3. Skin Care

The skin acts as an important barrier against infection. If the skin is broken bacteria can enter the body and create infection. Infections may cause or worsen lymphoedema in the affected area.

Tips for skin care include regular moisturising of the skin to ensure that it has supple, natural coconut, almond oil or Jojoba oil are considered the best.

Be sure to clean any scratches, cuts and grazes immediately using an antiseptic solution, followed by an antibacterial cream and cover the area with a clean dry plaster.

4. Get regular Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)

Receiving regular Manual Lymphatic Drainage (or Decongestive Therapy) is a proactive way to ensure that your lymphatic system is being supported, as well as monitoring your risk of Lymphoedema.

During your treatment session your Lymphoedema Practitioner will create an individualised treatment program based on your needs to ensure that your healthy lymphatic vessels are working and that any persistent fluid is redirected.

In addition to receiving a nurturing and relaxing massage your lymphatic Lymphoedema Therapist will take base line and follow up measurements, and will monitor any changes to the tissue of areas at risk.

Your Qualified Lymphoedema Therapist can also teach you self care massage techniques, so you that you may keep a routine in between treatments sessions.

If you have concerns about Lymphoedema or persistent swelling please feel free to contact Amanda on the details below.

Read to enhance your recovery? Save time and book online. Amanda offers treatments in a private clinic setting in Bangalow, New South Wales. 

For more information visit recoverymassage or call reception on: (02) 8001 6393.

About the Author Amanda Da- Silva is a Certified Lymphoedema Practitioner and Oncology Massage Therapist. Specialising in treatment and management for primary and Breast Cancer Related Lymphoedema. Amanda offers Manual Lymphatic Drainage, Decongestive Therapy, Breast Health, Mastectomy Aftercare and Breast Cancer Recovery.


What to Pack for Chemo – Treatment Bag Essentials

Having chemotherapy as part of your treatment plan can raise many questions and can be difficult to know what to expect.

Chemotherapy session can sometimes take up a better part of your day and in most cases there will be multiple infusions, over many days. There is also alot of “ down time” waiting as many of the medications need to be infused slowly over several minutes or hours. And even prior to the infusion, you may spend minutes to hours receiving drugs designed to reduce your risk of nausea or allergic reactions from the chemotherapy drugs given later on.

Going through chemotherapy can be emotionally challenging, to say the least.

Where do you even begin when preparing for chemo?

Take advantage of your cancer team: asking questions about what to expect, who can come to treatment, what items you will be provided, and what you’re allowed to bring with you is a great starting point.

Sometimes the infusion wards will offer things like warm blankets as well as tea and water.

So what should you pack in your bag or for your loved one?

To start with, having a prepacked bag with all your necessities already in it and ready to go will help ease pre-treatment anxiety.

Bring a friend.

Now this item you can’t exactly pack with you in your bag, but with inviting a friend or a loved one to your infusion is probably one of the most important things on your list. No-one should be facing cancer treatment alone.

Many people hesitate to ask their loved ones to join, but remember your friends and loved ones may feel helpless in not knowing what to do to help, and this gives them an opportunity to really be there for you.

Wear Comfortable Clothing

Be sure to wear comfortable clothing. Infusion rooms are usually rather open spaces and room temperatures tend to be cooler. I recommend wearing layers that way if you are too hot or too cold you can simply add or remove clothing as you need to. And definitely pack socks.

It is also an idea to wear some looser fitting tops or port-accessible tops unzip near the armpit to allow for easy port access. If chemotherapy-related hair loss is a concern, a cozy knitted hat or a beautify scarf can help protect your head from cold hospital drafts. 

Bring a Pillow and a Blanket.

Have you ever slept on a hospital pillow? If you have you will understand why I recommend bringing your own.  Make the experience for yourself as comfortable as possible, bring something familiar from home. Pillows and blankets can sometimes be your savings grace. Not only does that throw provide physical warmth, but it can fill you with a cozy emotional warmth as well.

Some infusion wards may offer heated blankets so do be sure to ask!

Bring Chews or Your favourite healthy Snack

There are special chews to alleviate symptoms of dry mouth caused by cancer drugs and radiation. Chewing ginger chews stimulates the flow of saliva, and ginger can also help reduce nausea. Chews can also be beneficial for patients who experience a bad taste in their mouth when their catheter is flushed.

Be sure to bring water and other healthy snacks – sugary snacks and biscuits are usually on offer however you may like to bring your own healthy snacks especially if you have preferences or are maintaining a more wholesome diet.

Lymphoedema Compression Sleeve

Cancer-related Lymphoedema can occur as a result of surgery, radiation or infection. Lymphoedema is the swelling or build up of lymph fluid.

It is important that you monitor yourself for any signs of swelling and speak with your Dr as soon as possible. A compression sleeve or compression garment can be helpful to manage symptoms of pain and swelling.

If you have been diagnosed with Lymphoedema be sure to continue to wear your sleeve daily and liaise with your Lymphoedema Practitioner if you have any questions or concerns.

Moisturiser and Lip Balm

Chemotherapy may damage fast-growing skin cells causing dry, itchy skin that peels. Moisturising  before and after chemo can be helpful.  I recommend Moo Goo however there are many options for rehydrating the skin.

Additionally side effects like dry lips and mouth sores are very common. I recommend using a lip balm that is both natural, fragrance-free and made without any harmful ingredients. Something as simple as a small amount coconut oil can be helpful – Great for applying to the outer corners of lips if needed.

 Read a Good Book or Start Journaling

You won’t necessarily read your books, but it’s nice to have them should you want the time to relax.

Read books that offer hope, encouragement, and guidance. They can either be cancer related or anything else that you find inspiring or that you enjoy reading example: fiction, self -help, spiritual or autobiographical. Alternatively you can use an app like Audible that will read the books to you – often read by the author.

Reading not your jam? Fair enough. How about Journaling or sketching? Research has shown that journaling may be able to help people experience a greater sense of emotional well-being as well as help people feel better physically. A journal can also be used to set personal goals and provide self-encouragement.

And journaling doesn’t always have to mean writing. Some people find that sketching and drawing in their journals can help to express emotions.

About the Author Amanda Da- Silva is a Certified Lymphoedema Practitioner and Oncology Massage Therapist. Specialising in Manual Lymphatic Drainage, Breast Health, Mastectomy Aftercare and Breast Cancer Recovery.

Amanda offers both In-Person Sessions (Bangalow clinic) and Virtual Consultation. To book in either an In-Person or Virtual Consultation visit or call Reception on: 02 8001 6393

Can Lymphatic Drainage Help with Fibromyalgia?

Can Lymphatic Drainage Help with Fibromyalgia?

Can Lymphatic Drainage Help with Fibromyalgia?

The short answer is, YES! Fibromyalgia is one of the most common chronic pain conditions, affecting millions of individuals. Fibromyalgia usually includes a number of symptoms including chronic widespread pain, tenderness and sensitivity to touch in muscles, joints and soft tissue, fatigue and sleep disturbances.

Although fibromyalgia is not life-threatening, it can be extremely distressing for sufferers. In the treatment of Fibromyalgia the main goal is for relief of pain. Fortunately, manual lymph drainage can offer positive results in the relief symptoms.

Manual lymph drainage is a unique therapy that can address pain in a different way. Compared to traditional massage, the pressure applied with manual lymph drainage is significantly lighter, with traction and gentle stretching of the skin and fascia.

The goal of these techniques is to manipulate the lymphatic vessels located in our tissue and fascia. This is significant in treatment because fascia is now considered to be an important factor in relation to managing pain syndromes such as Fibromyalgia.

So what is fascia?

Fascia is a comprehensive network of connective tissue that is found all over the body and contains lots of pain-sensing nerves. There are three layers:

Superficial Fascia, which is mostly associated with the skin; Deep Fascia, which is mostly associated with the muscles, bones, nerves and blood vessels; and Visceral (or Subserous) Fascia, which is mostly associated with the internal organs.

In fibromyagia (and other pain conditions), the brain is mistakenly triggering a ‘fight or flight’ response which then contracts muscle tissue and fascia.

So when we get tight in our shoulders or when we get slightly acidic or dehydrated, our lymphatic system can no longer pick up cellular waste and other debris in your body effectively which forces the waste to build in your tissues.  As this waste builds in your tissues, it becomes more acidic and more inflamed. It is sustained tightness of fascia that can cause pain, generates inflammation and creates knots in muscles known as trigger points.

Several studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of manual lymph drainage (MLD) for the treatment of Fibromyalgia.[1] The rhythmic and gentle skin stretch technique has been demonstrated to show positive results for reduction in pain and stiffness, and improved sleep.

I recommend that my clients try at least two to three MLD sessions to determine if this physical therapy will be of benefit. Additionally learning self care strategies and scheduling ongoing maintenance is recommended for keeping flare ups at bay.

Read to enhance your recovery? Save time and book online. Amanda offers treatments in a private clinic setting in Bangalow, New South Wales. 

For more information visit recoverymassage or call reception on: (02) 8001 6393.

About the Author: Amanda Da- Silva is a Certified Lymphoedema Practitioner and Lymphatic Drainage Specialist working with chronic and acute lymphatic & immune related conditions including: fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, Hashimotos, bloating, swelling and fluid retention, Lymphoedema, Lipoedema, breast conditions, and those in need of support for detoxification.

Thrive During Cancer Treatment with Oncology Massage

Thrive During Cancer Treatment with Oncology Massage
Thrive with Oncology Massage

Thrive During Cancer Treatment with Oncology Massage

Oncology massage is an approach to massage therapy based in both compassion and specialised massage treatments to help people manage their experience with cancer. Oncology massage can play an important role in your cancer journey and is now recognised as an integral part of standard care.

Many people report positive affects from treatment and the research is showing much evidence in support of the benefits for Oncology Massage. Benefits include improved relaxation, sleep, and immune function as well as relieving anxiety, pain, fatigue and nausea.

Oncology massage therapists are trained to help people where they are in their experience with cancer, and create specialised treatment plans to support those during this time. Treatment plans are tailored according to the client’s needs which incorporate a range of cancer- related issues from the physical, psycholo-social and emotional aspects of cancer.

Personal goals for seeking treatment are also a focus during the session and can vary from respite offering a relating experience in the midst of what is going on, to more physical aspects such as relief from nausea, pain or peripheral neuropathy.

Many clients report that taking time out for massage offers help with getting through the remainder of their cancer treatments.

To learn more about Oncology Massage visit: recoverymassage


About the author: Amanda Da- Silva is a Licensed Oncology Massage therapist, Certified Lymphoedema, and Manual Lymphatic Practitioner specialising in treatment for;

  • Bodywork during cancer treatment: chemotherapy and radiation
  • Restricted movement after surgical procedures
  • Scars and adhesions after surgery
  • Mastectomy aftercare
  • Lymphoedema management

Amanda is particularly passionate about using integrative techniques to help clients manage the symptoms of cancer treatment, and can work with you through all stages of chemotherapy and radiation to improve quality of life.

Amanda offers both in person  (Bangalow clinic) and virtual sessions. If you have any questions feel free to contact Amanda on the details below.

Read to enhance your recovery? Save time and book online. Amanda offers treatments in a private clinic setting in Bangalow, New South Wales. 

Arm Swelling After Breast Cancer Surgery and Radiation

Arm Swelling After Breast Cancer Surgery and Radiation
Lymphatic Health After Breast Cancer Surgery and Radiation.

Arm Swelling After Breast Cancer Surgery and Radiation

If you’ve recently had surgery to test lymph nodes for cancer cells (biopsy), undergone lumpectomy, mastectomy or radiation to the chest wall and armpit, you may want to think about ways to prevent arm swelling.

After surgery and radiation, lymph fluid may not flow as freely through the lymphatic system as surgery has removed some of the channels that would have carried the fluid. Radiation can close down some of those lymphatic channels also.

Once surgery and radiation are complete focus needs be on supporting your lymphatic system especially in and around the treated area.

Scarring from surgery and radiation can disrupt the flow of fluid however there are several alternative routes where the arm and chest wall drain so lymph fluid may be re-directed to other working vessels.

For this reason it is crucial to work with a qualified Lymphoedema Practitioner, who can design specific treatment plan for your needs, as well as teach you how to establish the best self care practice.

Your Lymphoedema Practitioner can also take a measurement using a device called an L-Dex which produces a Lymphoedema index value that can help determine if you are building up excess extracellular fluid in your at risk limb.

It must be said that Lymphoedema can develop months, or even years after the treatment for cancer, and while there is no known cure – it can be managed.

So how common is Lymphoedema?

According to research by the National Breasts and Ovarian Cancer Centre (2012), conservative estimates suggest that: “At least 20% of patients treated for melanoma, breast, gynaecological or prostate cancers will experience secondary lymphoedema”.

It is important to remember that lymphoedema usually develops gradually over time, so it is important to recognise the early signs and symptoms.

Signs and symptoms may include:

  • A feeling of heaviness, tightness or fullness in the limb on the affected side
  • Swelling and/or pitting (pitting– If you press your finger to a swollen area and it leaves a dimple that doesn’t go away after a few seconds this is referred to pitting oedema).
  • Ache, pain or tension in the arm

If you have recently undergone surgery and radiation or have concerns about persistent swelling and Lymphoedema please feel free to contact Amanda on the details below.

About the Author  Amanda Da- Silva is a Certified Lymphoedema Practitioner and Oncology Massage Therapist. Specialising in Manual Lymphatic Drainage, Breast Health, Mastectomy Aftercare and Breast Cancer Recovery.

Amanda offers both In-Person Sessions (Bangalow clinic) and Virtual Consultation. To book in either an In-Person or Virtual Consultation visit recoverymassage

Or call call Reception on: 02 8001 6393.

Pregnancy Cankles – HELP!

by Amanda 0 Comments
Pregnancy Cankles – HELP!

Pregnancy is full of new and exciting experiences like feeling your little bundle moving around inside you for the first time. It can also come along with some unexpected changes to your body such as swelling, especially to the ankles and feet.

Swelling can be experienced at any stage of pregnancy and is more likely during the 3rd trimester, around the 27 week mark.

During pregnancy, the body produces more blood and body fluids to meet the needs of the developing baby. Swelling is a normal part of pregnancy and helps prepare the pelvic joints and tissues to open for delivery.

Normal swelling is typically experienced in the hands, legs, ankles, and feet and can become uncomfortable.

You may not be able to stop parts of your body from swelling. But the good news is, you may be able to limit how severe it is, here are 2 things that Lymphatic Therapists know work a treat!

1. Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)

This hands on therapy can be very supportive if you are suffering with tired feet, swollen ankles or aching and heavy legs. It may not be possible able to stop parts of your body from swelling however you may be able to limit the severity of fluid accumulating and discomfort experienced.

It is important to note that sudden swelling of the feet, ankles, hands and face indicate a more serious condition called pre-eclampsia.  Symptoms of pre-eclampsia include high blood pressure and protein in the urine which should be picked up by your G.P. during your check ups.

How Does Manual Lymphatic Drainage Help?

MLD is a very gentle specialised massage which works specifically with the lymphatic system in the direction of lymph flow.

MLD promotes optimal functioning of the lymphatic system facilitating the removal of wastes, excess water, toxins and bacteria from the connective tissue – sometimes referred to as the body’s waste disposal system, resulting in reduced fluid retention, swelling, lighter legs and improves the appearance of stretch marks.

It is recommended to book an appointment as early as the first trimester, particularly if you already have swollen ankles, your legs ache and feel heavy or have any circulatory issues or varicose veins.

2.  Dry Body Brushing

Dry brushing is a health practice, which involves brushing over the skin dry, followed by a shower or bath.  It stimulates the lymphatic system and also facilitates the removal of wastes and excess fluid.

This is a safe practice to incorporate into your health and self care routine during pregnancy.

Tips for body brushing:

1. Stroke brush in one upward movement 

2. Brushing upward and towards the major lymph nodes in the body, such as the groin, armpits and base of neck.

3. Work from left to right, which is the natural direction when massaging the body.

Precautions: Never skin brush over inflamed skin e.g. open wounds, inflamed sores, varicose veins, sun burnt skin. Avoid dry brushing the face with firm bristles.

Use a Brush made from Plant bristle eg. coconut husks or from the agave plant provides the best exfoliation and stimulation for your skin. They are the highest quality, long lasting and don’t scratch the skin.

Other tips to manage swelling during pregnancy:

  • Avoid standing for long periods, and do engage in exercise: Walk, swim, cycle
  • Stay cool on warmer days
  • Actively cool down the legs – pour lukewarm or cold water over the legs, from the feet upwards
  • Use cold compresses on swollen areas
  • Rest with your feet elevated
  • Wear medical compression stockings
  • Wear comfortable shoes, avoiding high heels if possible
  • Avoid clothes that are tight around your wrists or ankles

If you have any concerns or questions about swelling and/ or Lymphatic Drainage feel free to contact Amanda.

About the Author Amanda Da- Silva is a Licensed Remedial Massage therapist, Certified Lymphoedema, and Manual Lymphatic Practitioner.

Amanda incorporates techniques such as manual lymphatic drainage, myofascial release and somatic techniques for for musculo-skeletal dysfunction and pain.

Amanda offers both in person  (Bangalow clinic) and virtual sessions. To book in either an in person or virtual session visit to book online.

Or call  02 8001 6393.

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Learn to how support your lymphatic system with Dry Skin Brushing check out this video!

The fundamentals of Dry Skin Brushing

Amanda Da-Silva