Breaking through the scar tissue has been my biggest issue. This restriction in my range of motion of my right shoulder has affected work and makes it hard to get back into yoga. I even struggle with putting on mascara. It’s the little things that are not appreciated. I try to massage the area and work through it, but it just feels like rocks under my skin.
So, now if you’ve read my article “My Love-Hate Affair with Massage”, (https://jerseygirlhealthandwealth.com/my-love-hate-affair-with-massages/), you know that I’m not big on being touched by strangers, in what I feel, is a very intimate setting. The irony is that, as an Occupational Therapist, I’m touching random people all day. Heck, I toilet people many times a day. One could say that THAT’S pretty intimate.
But now, having had my third breast reconstruction surgery in 6 months has left me with so much scar tissue and restricted range of motion of my shoulders, particularly my right shoulder. The right side was where five lymph nodes were removed and a latissimus dorsi flap procedure was done to reconstruct a breast using muscle and skin from my back.
So…I met Troy from Kur Wellness Studios at a charity event for Mary’s Place. I immediately had to jump in and open my big mouth when I overheard him talking about an employee of his performing massage on a woman who had undergone a mastectomy. From my clinical knowledge, massage after mastectomy has to be performed by someone who reeeeeally knows what they are doing or they could not only hurt the person, but illicit lymphedema. So I jumped in and got on my soapbox, but he assured me that his massage therapist knew what he was doing and the woman was very happy with the result. So I thought, “Hmmmm…I’ll have to see it for myself”. So after much apprehension, I gave in to “Dave”, my new friend and massage therapist. We exchanged emails where he assured me and again re-assured me that I would be in good hands. And I knew that if I felt he was doing something that was going to hurt me, I would just open my, again, big mouth and stop him.
Well, I’m here to tell you that Dave performs miracles.
But first, let me tell you about the studio. It’s GORGEOUS! One of the treatment rooms even has an amazing shower you can indulge in. In the back they have an exercise studio that looks something out of Christian Grey’s bedroom (in a good way). There are ropes and chains and bungee cords and all kinds of amazing things for yoga wall flow classes and TRX style classes. This program is obviously on the cutting edge of the hot workouts. What was most significant is how Troy explained to me how these contraptions could help me modify due to my upper body limitations. Where initially it all looked so intimidating and I thought, “No way, not in my condition”, it is truly just the opposite. Their programs are for the elite as well as the “just getting back into it” clientele, like myself.
Now back to my new friend, Dave. He’s burly and sweet with such a kind face, I felt very comfortable with him. He used bolsters to position me on the table so I could be comfortable given that I cannot lay flat on my stomach (due to the new “softballs” in my chest). Dave worked very slowly and used, I believe, was a myofacial release approach applying gentle sustained pressure where there were restrictions due to all my scar tissue. When he was done I had complete full range of motion of my right shoulder. It was amazing!
So, I stand corrected. You CAN have a massage after mastectomy. But again, you really have to work with someone who knows what they are doing. Beware of chain retail massage shops. Make sure someone is a licensed therapist – even better if they are trained in lymphedema management. Tell them your medical situation and ask them to research it before you come in. If they give you the “Don’t worry, I know what I’m doing” attitude, then walk away. You don’t want to work with anyone insensitive like that.
You can find Troy, Dave and the rest of the fantastic team at KUR Wellness Studio at 412 Bond Street, Asbury Park, NJ 07712