I live in Rochester, MN and am lucky enough to have my cancer stuff overseen by Mayo Clinic doctors. However, the other stuff, the yearly physicals, etc, is done by Olmsted Medical Center. And despite me being fairly involved and motivated to research my own particular brand of breast cancer and symptoms, sometimes I let overly-careful doctors decide what I should do instead of standing firm.

Case in point: I have a bit of firming/lymphedema in my cancer breast. It does not hurt. It does not change my bra size. It does not appear as worrisome on mammograms. I do not appear to have any of the more worrisome symptoms of arm lymphedema (which you should definitely jump on right away because there is no cure and it can get out of hand quickly and no one knows the exact causes).

I know that lymphedema is caused by lymph fluid building up and the lymph system, for whatever reason, try lymph node removal and radiation in my case, not being able to take care of it.

I also know that my lymphedema comes and goes, but is particularly bad after a long plane flight.

Unfortunately, I had my yearly physical right after coming back from Japan. And so my nurse practicioner became worried about the lymphedema in my breast. I poo pooed her worry. (note above: doesn’t hurt, doesn’t get worse, doesn’t affect me).

And I let her worry over-ride what I knew.

So I made an appointment at the Mayo Clinic lymphedema clinic. And there the doctor, who barely seemed to want to even look at the breast, told me “yep, I think its lymphedema” and then began telling me about how the lymph system works and how there’s no cure and sometimes people use massage to handle it. He offered to set me up with a physical therapist.

I turned it down. I should know better. I should have just gone with my own base of knowledge on this one.

Anyway, what seems to work for my breast lympedema is daily yoga, some massage towards my remaining lymph nodes, and shoulder rolls coupled with breathing that can be either explained by yoga ujayi breathing or you could check out the Lebed exercise method explanation (like blowing bubbles.) I used the Lebed method after my surgery and all through chemotherapy and radiation because it was simple, light exercises that didn’t hurt me and gave me some feeling of ownership and control over my recovery.