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I thought it might be helpful to share with you my list of my top favorite things to promote breast surgery recovery. I have personally tried all of these and found that they worked wonderfully well.
In the Hospital
Whether you are recovering from mastectomy, lumpectomy or breast reconstruction surgery, there will be incisions to heal. The body requires protein to heal properly and if you’re a vegetarian, that can pose a problem.
If you can, have a friend bring you some homemade soups, salads, stews made with fresh organic ingredients while you’re in the hospital mending because that would be much better than the processed food most hospitals serve.
1. Protein – since you probably won’t be able to get organic meat in the hospital (or if you’re a vegetarian), your best bet is to have a good quality protein powder that you can mix into juices or soups. Just make sure it doesn’t have an ingredient called “soy protein isolate” in it – regular organic soy is fine for you but this particular ingredient is a proven breast cancer risk.
2. Arnica – you can take this in homeopathic pills, a cream or a gel but it’s great stuff for limiting surgical bruising and pain. Don’t miss out on this one! There’s a particular protocol that I was directed to use by my naturopath, and I discuss that in this article: Your Breast Surgery Recovery – Using Arnica to Minimize Bruising and Swelling
3. Transfer Factors – Because of the fact that your immune system is clearly not operating as well as it could be it only makes sense to rebuild it as quickly as possible and I have found few things that work better than Transfer Factors. You are relying upon your immune system to be your best defense against cancer and if it is not operating at optimal levels, you could be leaving the door wide open for a recurrence. Transfer Factors will not only help you rebuild your immune system, they also help the body repair itself. This is the one I recommend.
4. Essential oils – to promote the healing process, decrease pain and the chances of infection, limit bruising and increase oxygenation to the healing incisions. I used lavender and PanAway, a remarkable essential oil blend of helichrysum and wintergreen made by Young Living Essential Oils. Since your incisions will be covered, just apply the essential oils to the areas you can access – the oil will migrate where it is needed. Just be aware – some nurses might frown on this (I did this by myself in the bathroom!).
Healing at Home
5. Sleep – once you’re home it is essential to get as much rest as you can. Sleep is the absolute best way for your body to heal itself. Don’t feel guilty about getting some extra sleep – you need it right now.
6. Continue 1, 3 and 4 above – in addition to PanAway, use lavender and frankincense for their superior skin healing qualities. Lavender also helps you to relax and promotes deeper sleep.
7. Keep stress levels down – too much stress can slow down the healing process. Keep stress levels down by taking time out to meditate. If you can learn to visualize your body healing itself, it will happen that much quicker.
8. Bromelain – an enzyme found in the stems of pineapples, useful for reducing post-op swelling. It acts as an anti-inflammatory and boosts the immune system to reduce pain, bruising, and tenderness. It is a natural supplement that works the same way as Ibuprofen, the well-known over-the-counter drug, the only difference being that bromelain will not harm your liver. This is a trusted brand.
9. Flaxseed – just 1-2 tbsp of freshly ground flaxseed per day can help reduce your risk for cancer recurrence, fight the effects of inflammation, help your body repair itself, and it is full of fiber which will help you detox (and get over that post-operative constipation).
Reducing Scar Tissue Adhesions
I had the latissimus dorsi flap breast reconstruction so had a sizable scar on the left side of my back just under my shoulder blade. I had a friend massage cypress and wintergreen essential oils around the edges of the scar (while it was healing) and into the incision itself after it had healed. Cypress increases circulation and wintergreen is a natural anti-inflammatory and decreases pain.
After about 8 weeks post-op, I had my massage therapist do some cross-fiber massage over the scar to reduce adhesions which could limit my range of movement. I still get that done 8 years later because adhesions tend to cause trouble even this far down the track. Gentle stretching of the arm above the head (yoga is wonderful) also helps quite a bit. I created a video to show others how to do the massage procedure.
The important thing post surgery is to stay positive and relaxed, and let nature run its course. Remember, your body is adept at self-healing. It knows how to repair itself. All you have to do is give it the proper nutrition, minimize stress, get plenty of rest, and promote good circulation.
I send my love to everyone taking this journey right now. If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, and/or “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.