October is considered Breast Cancer Awareness Month but I like to think of it as just Cancer Awareness Month. There are so many types of cancer and most, if not all of us, know of or have a friend or family member that has received a cancer diagnosis. My sister fought a battle with a very rare form of brain cancer and died at the age of 42. My father was diagnosed in 2013 with leukemia and has been cancer free since 2015.
There is no “how to” guidebook that tells us how to deal with fear, worry, and stress associated with a cancer diagnosis for ourselves or for a loved one. What if you could be paired up with someone who has been through exactly what you are going through and can provide a listening ear? Someone who can tell you what to expect with treatment, surgery, or side effects of medication. As a caregiver, would it be helpful to be paired with someone who has walked down the same road you are walking down, experiencing the same feelings you are experiencing as you care for your loved one. This type of support would be amazingly valuable, right? What if I told you it is absolutely FREE?!
There Is HOPE At CanCare
I am excited to introduce you to a wonderful non-profit organization called CanCare. CanCare is a free and confidential organization that has over 600 trained volunteers who have survived cancer or were in a caregiver role. The volunteers give their time to offer one-on-one support, hope and encouragement to cancer patients or caregivers.
How It Works:
Volunteer survivors and caregivers are matched to patients by age, gender, type of cancer, stage and treatment protocol. The volunteer chosen will contact the patient/caregiver within 48 hrs.
Anyone. Those who are newly diagnosed, currently in treatment, and those who have finished treatment. Do you have a family history of cancer and just have questions? CanCare is there to help answer patients/caregiver questions and support them no matter what stage they are in.
How Long Does This Service Last?
A patient or caregiver can end this service at any time. Some patients and volunteers have become life-long friends. Others may want a single phone call just to get their questions answered where others are appreciative of the support they receive through their treatments and/or surgery. The ball will always be in their court of the patient or caregiver as to how long and how often you want to stay in touch with their volunteer.
Who Are the Volunteers?
Those that volunteer must be 6 months to 1 year out of treatment. Survivors and caregivers go through an extensive interview process, approximately 2 days of in-house training and online work.
How Do I Get in Touch With CanCare?
A patient or caregiver can call CanCare directly at 713-461-0028, go online at CanCare.org and fill out the online form, or speak with their nurse navigator at their local hospital.
How Can I Become A Volunteer?
Call the number above and speak with a CanCare representative about your desire to become a volunteer.
A special thank you to Pam Sheperd, who works for CanCare, for taking time out of her day to speak with me regarding CanCare and their mission to provide support for cancer patients who have been recently diagnosed, in cancer treatment, or post treatment. Learn more about CanCare by visiting their website at cancare.org.
If you’re experiencing pain, stiffness and clicking noises in your jaw, you might be one of the 15 per cent of adults who are thought to have TMJ or temporomandibular joint problems. TMJ, which is known medically as TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder) affects more women than men, and tends to affect people from the ages of 20 to 40.
Symptoms of TMD Include:
The good news is that most of the pain you get from TMD can be treated without needing surgery, and massage can help treat the cause of the problem, which relieves the symptoms. Sometimes the pain can come from something as simple as grinding or clenching your teeth, and if this case especially, regular massage therapy can really help to make a difference by counteracting the stress that’s making you grind your teeth.
Back in 1981, a dentistry study found that the teeth-clenching and grinding which often leads to TMD reduced when the masseter facial muscles were massaged.
Stress Relief Can Lead to TMD Relief
We all know of the studies into massage as an effective stress reliever and its role in reducing anxiety, tension and stress has been reliably proven over the years. Massage leads to lower cortisol levels and increases in the amounts of feel good hormones such oxytocin and serotonin. The feeling of total relaxation that can be induced by regular massage is the key to reducing stress-related habits like teeth grinding.
Home Massage for TMD
Specific techniques can help the symptoms as they flare up, too. Try massaging your jaw with a kneading type pressure – use your fingers to make a constant, circular motion against the joints and muscles that are most affected. Find the masseter muscles in your lower jaw – these are directly behind your molars and sitting just below your cheekbone. Start the massage by touching the corner of your mouth, then working your fingers all along your jaw until you feel a flat plane of bone. Massage the area by pressing gently with two or three fingers in a circular motion. Massaging like this helps to warm up the muscles and also stimulates the lymph function, flushing out stagnant fluids at the same time. Keep going with the jaw massage until you feel some relief from the pain.
Every year I pick one organization to donate money, time, or massages to that supports women in some capacity. This year Young Survival Coalition (YSC), https://www.youngsurvival.org/, a non-profit, was brought to my attention. One of my clients belongs to this group and will be riding in their Tour de Pink in California in October of this year. https://www.ysctourdepink.org/. To help her raise money Embrace Life Therapeutic Massage will be donating 5% of sales for the months of June and July to her fundraiser.
This organization was created for young women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer under the age of 35. YSC gives these young women a community of peers who are going through or have been through what they are experiencing right now. YSC provides a place to get support, information and education. As an oncology massage therapist I learn new things about cancer and cancer treatments everyday. One thing that I just learned is that cancer in young women is different. Did you know....
Note: All this information was taken from the "About YSC: Empowering Young Surviviors" brochure with permission.
The Water-Toxin Myth
You may have heard that it’s necessary to drink water after a massage because some massage therapists claim that getting a massage releases toxins directly into the bloodstream, and that the best way to flush them out is to drink plenty of water to encourage your kidneys and the rest of your digestive system to process these and remove them from your body. I admit I was taught this myth in school and used to tell my clients to drink plenty of water. It never hurts to drink plenty of water, so it can’t hurt to rehydrate after a massage session. But massages don’t flush toxins into the bloodstream, and water wouldn’t help if it did.
There are a lot of scientific reasons why this is the case, but know that massage doesn’t liberate environmental pollutants from cells or “squish” them into your bloodstream or excretory systems to be expelled. That’s what your kidneys and digestive system are designed to do.
The Lactic Acid Myth
Another myth about massages: That massage is a great way to release lactic acid in the muscles after a long run or hard workout. The soreness and stiffness you experience after a workout actually isn’t from lactic acid building up in your muscles, it’s what’s called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).
When you work out your muscles rebuild themselves and become larger and stronger. Your muscles do create lactic acid, but this is something they do all the time, even when your body is at rest. So the idea that your muscles are sore from lactic acid buildup is false. When you exercise, your body needs fuel, and breaks down some of its stored energy to get this, becoming acidic. Lactate is just a by-product of this process that is created all the time.
That doesn’t mean you should give up your post workout massage! There are still plenty of benefits to a good massage. Your massage therapist can reduce the pain and stiffness after a hard workout, which moves blood and fluid around your body, helping to heal micro trauma from your workout. When you heavily work out a muscle group, it loses some of its flexibility and tenses up, making it easier to tear. A thorough massage eases this tension. It also reduces inflammation and swelling, and lessens fatigue, gearing you up to conquer your next exercise class.
No, Massages Do Not Cleanse Your Body of Toxins.
In truth? Your body does a pretty great job of flushing toxins all on its own. If you are in good health, your kidneys, liver, and intestines should already be doing a great job of removing toxins. Except for very rare occasions, like overconsumption of drugs or alcohol, your body doesn’t need extra help detoxing. It just needs time to do what it does best.
Massage does not really do much to release toxins from your body. This is just a myth. On the other hand, some people might fear that getting a massage, especially a deep tissue massage, might actually be toxic; that the toxins released can be harmful to your body. There is some truth to this - kind of.
If you’ve experienced an intense, deep-tissue massage that has left you feeling sore, tired, or disoriented, what you’ve actually experienced is post-massage soreness and malaise (PMSM). Excessive pressure like this can cause rhabdomyolysis, or “rhabdo,” which is the poisoning by proteins liberated from an injured muscle. This is only dangerous for extremely vulnerable patients, like the elderly or those with other health issues, especially renal issues.
If you work with an experienced, knowledgeable massage therapist, this should never be an issue. PMSM should only cause slight discomfort as a mild side effect of a strong massage, but for most of us, there’s no need to fear these kinds of natural toxins leaving your muscles.
Other Benefits to Massage Therapy
Don’t worry. There are still plenty of reasons for regular massages, and benefits to even the occasional massage. Each massage is a great way to reduce stress and pamper yourself, sure, but there are major health perks as well. With massage, you can:
Everybody loves to show their mom how special she is at this time of the year. Flowers and chocolate are great. Who doesn't like that? What about taking the gift giving a step further this year. How can you show her that her health and well-being are important to you too?
All moms need to be spoiled and how better to take care of someone you love so much than to offer her a gift that will do her some real good. Moms are busy. You see her doing her very best to keep everyone happy. Take notice of the things she says about her mood, her body, how she’s feeling. Has mom been complaining of her back aching or general stiffness, aches and pains? You know that a massage will really help, don’t you?
Imagine her face as you present her with a massage gift certificate(s) for a soothing, stress busting massage at Embrace Life Therapeutic Massage. She’ll be super happy to receive a gift that’s going to soothe her aches and pains, but also she’ll be touched that you actually listened to her when she told you about them. Include your dad, brothers and sisters and give her a package of massage sessions and maybe even book the dates so she has no excuse to not take time for herself. Somehow I think she will be giving out a lot of hugs and kisses on Mother's Day and maybe shed a few tears of happiness!
This Mother’s Day give her what she really wants, and show a little extra care, attention and thought when you choose the gift for your mom. Flowers will wilt, house plants need looking after, chocolates don’t last (but I have to admit they are good while they do) - but a massage is a gift that keeps on giving.
You know the benefits of regular massage therapy sessions but there are some people who just never seem to get around to "me" time and they need to know the restorative powers of a good massage session. If you’re looking for a gift for a sister(s), mother, grandmother or a girl friend, here’s why a massage is the best choice as a gift for her. It shows that you’ve put a little thought into the gift and you care about her health and well being.
You could wander around the gift selections in stores or just order something online, but if you treat a friend or a loved one to a blissful therapeutic massage it says “I really thought about you, and I thought you needed a massage.” It might be just the nudge they need towards trying massage for themselves. Some people have never had a massage, and it’s people like that who need one the most, so why not buy them gift certificates this year for Christmas. They might have thought massage wasn’t for them but once you’ve introduced them to the relaxing healing power of massage therapy they’ll be hooked. Everyone loves massage...some people just need to try it to know they do.
Here are a couple of reasons why gift certificates are such a great idea...
disconnect from everyday stresses? An hour or so of blissful quiet and relaxation could be the
best present anyone gets this year!
A voucher of any amount to book a massage will result in a big smile! While you're at it, buy one for yourself. Call today to order your gift certificate(s) and schedule a time to pick them
up at the office.
Being a fibromyalgia or ‘fibro’ sufferer can feel miserable. There is no cure, so all you can do is learn to manage your symptoms as much as possible to try and avoid it impacting your everyday life. This can be easier said than done because it is not something people can see. You look fine to them. People do not realize the pain that a 'fibro' suffer is in on a minute by minute basis.
What Is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a condition which affects around five million Americans, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, more females than males, and usually between the ages of 20 and 50. Fibromyalgia is thought to be caused by overactive nerves.
The main symptom is pain, which can range from mild to severe. It varies from person to person but some people report shooting or burning pains while others complain of a constant deep ache which doesn’t let up. It’s common for joints to feel tender and the pain to get worse at night although some people feel it all day long. Other symptoms can include tiredness, depression, headaches and memory loss.
Good News for People Who Have Been Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia
Massage can be a pleasurable and effective way to relieve some of the symptoms of fibromyagia and help you to manage it better. This is because massage boosts circulation in your muscles, reduces heart rate, relaxes your muscles, improves the range of motion in your joints and increases production of the body’s natural painkillers. All of these effects are positively great for fibromyalgia sufferers.
Massage for Fibromyalgia
People who have fibromyalgia can be extra sensitive to pressure in some parts of their body. Massage therapists who have studied up on fibromyalgia know this and will ask you about any particular areas that might be a problem for you. If you’re worried that it will hurt…don’t be. Professional therapists know that people with fibromyalgia can be sensitive to pressure. He/she will make sure that you know you can tell them at any time if your massage feels in any way uncomfortable. If you’re concerned about whether a massage is a good idea for you, speak to your doctor first.
Get A Good Night’s Sleep
Massage can help to promote better sleep. If your fibromyalgia leaves you waking up tired, even after what you think was a normal night’s sleep, regular massage sessions can help. A massage will leave you relaxed which can promote deeper sleep. Deep sleep helps fibromyalgia symptoms because it’s when you enter the deep sleep phase that your body can repair and restore itself.
Boosting Your Mood
Massage boosts the feel good hormones and endorphins that can help to banish the low mood and depression that can go hand in hand with fibromyalgia pain. Getting a regular supply of feel good hormones is a great way to manage the symptoms that can sometimes get you down.
Banishing the Pain of Headaches
Many fibromyalgia sufferers also suffer from migraines or tension headaches caused by tight neck and shoulder muscles. Improving blood flow to those areas and releasing the tension with regular massage sessions can help to reduce the pain from a fibromyalgia headache.
Just having one massage session can leave you feeling better for a while, but as with most therapies, the benefits increase with the regularity of your sessions. Book in for regular massage therapy and you could start to feel much better in-between your sessions as well as during and after.
Courtesy of: Google Free Images To Use http://www.healioswoundsolutions.com/lymphedema/
Most of us know or have heard of someone with lymphedema. But have you heard of a condition called lipedema? Many, even some doctors, confuse the two conditions. I had never heard of lipedema until approximately a year ago. I recently had two clients come in...one with lymphedema and one with lipedema. There are distinguishing factors that set the two apart. Let's take a minute and touch on each condition and then see how MLD (manual lymphatic drainage) can play a part in an overall health treatment plan.
There are two types of lymphedema: Primary and Secondary. Primary Lymphedema is an inherited and rare abnormal formation of the lymphatic system and can have an onset at any time but usually after puberty or a pregnancy. Secondary Lymphedema is caused by an injury to an otherwise healthy lymphatic system. We most often associate secondary lymphedema with breast cancer survivors who have developed lymphedema and wear compression sleeves on one or both arms. Other ways lymphedema can develope such as radiation therapy, an injury due to an accident or surgery that damages lymph nodes/vessels, or scar tissue buildup that has compromised the lymphatic system. Lymphedema can develop in any part of the body after a trauma.
Characteristics of Lymphedema
Secondary lymphedema presents in the affected extremity and includes the fingers, feet and toes. There are several stages to lymphedema so it is important to seek treatment as soon as a change is noticed.
Lipedema is a medical condition that causes large deposits of fat (adipose tissue) to form on the hips, thighs and legs. It is often misdiagnosed as lymphedema or obesity. This condition is predominately found in women (approx 11-17%) and is thought to be hormone related. That being said, lipedema can present in a woman anytime after puberty and starts bi-laterally (both sides) at the hips and, over time, moves down to the ankles. Fat deposits start out small and get bigger and bigger over time. Texture is similar to bubble wrap. This medical condition can become quite painful over time and can affect quality of life. Not only can lipedema be physically painful but lipedema can be emotionally painful for women. They have to battle the stigma that they are fat and not eating healthy. This condition has nothing to do with being fat and there is not a diet that would reduce the fat buildup. But a healthy diet and exercise can help with the inflammation associated with lipedema.
Characteristics of Lipedema
The trunk (upper part) of the body is much smaller than the lower half of the body. Fat deposits begin on the hips and over time will spread down the legs to the ankles. Lipedema does not affect the top of the feet or toes. Fluid buildup around these fat deposits can cause chronic pain.
Can MLD ( Manual Lymphatic Drainage) Help with Lymphedema and Lipedema?
Yes, yes, yes! Will it cure it? No. If you have been diagnosed with lymphedema your doctor will usually refer you to a Complete Decongestion Therapy (CDT) Therapist who is trained in measuring and fitting compression garments. A massage therapist trained in MLD (manual lymphatic drainage) can work with your CDT therapist in managing your lymphedema.
With lipedema, manual lymphatic drainage can help move out the fluid that builds up around the fatty deposits which can lead to a decrease in pain. Hopefully a correct diagnosis has been made and your doctor has recommended a CDT therapist. Many CDT therapists do not do MLD treatments due to the time involved in those treatments and will refer out to a massage therapist trained in MLD. Some lipedema patients find compression wrapping to be too uncomfortable and painful but it is beneficial in helping to reduce fluid buildup.
Whether lymphedema or lipedema, manual lymphatic drainage could be a beneficial part of your health care plan.
written by: Embrace Life Therapeutic Massage
I purposefully did not use a standard massage image of the beautiful thin woman with perfect makeup and hair with what appears to be a flawless body lying on a massage table with candles all around her, a flower in her hair, and hot stones down her back.
The reason is I hear from women all the time..."I do not get massages because I do not want someone to see my body" or "I'm not into getting massages" which is code for I'm not comfortable with my body and the way I look. This saddens me because I used to be one of them. As women we are so hard on ourselves and how we perceive our bodies. Negative body image is just that...negative. How can we as women turn negative into a positive? Accept yourself where you are. If changes need to be made find a friend who can be your champion and encourager and start taking one step at a time towards that change. Regular therapeutic massage sessions are a great first step.
Trust me, I have struggled and said all the same things. In fact, I almost didn't return to massage school when I found out we actually had to massage each other. The horror! I had never had a therapeutic massage and at that time my body image was at an all time low. 50 years old, 5'3", 20 pounds overweight, chronic back pain. The thought of having to undress (though we are covered at all times) and have someone touch me was horrifying. I saw all my flaws immediately grow to monster size. But no one else in the class paid attention to my perceived flaws. No one said, "Oh my gosh, you are 20 lbs overweight" or "Gross, you have a huge scar on your arm". We all just accepted each other where we were and soon became very comfortable getting massages from each other.
Sometimes life can throw us curve balls that can cause us to have a negative body image. A injury or disease can alter how our body looks. I was in a car accident my senior year and suffered from crushed cheek bones, my bottom lip almost removed and other facial injuries. Because of that injury smiling has been difficult for me because my bottom lip does not stretch like others when they smile due to the scar tissue. Someone may have/had cancer and have lost their hair or have had to have a breast removed or have some other scar due to surgery. Someone may suffer from a disease that requires medications that causes you to gain weight. Curve balls!
But the truth is we are all fearfully and wonderfully made (curve balls and all). Each unique in shape and size. That is what makes us beautiful. This is what makes you YOU! As a massage therapist that is what I see...a beautiful individual who is unique. I see YOU. When I am working on someone all I see are the muscles underneath the skin. I notice if the muscles are tight and knotted up or if they are pliable and soft. Does the skin move easily or are they areas of restriction. Are you holding tension in your jaw or shoulders. That's all. Otherwise, I see you as you. A beautiful creation.
So my challenge to all women is to let go of the negative body images and begin to get regular therapeutic massages. You will notice in no time at all how much more accepting you are of your body and how much better you feel. I invite you to come and experience therapeutic massage therapy at Embrace Life! Therapeutic Massage. If you are nervous about coming alone bring a friend. I have a nice couch they can relax on while you are getting your massage. You will find it a safe place to just be you. No judgement here. Learn to love yourself and your body. We can't survive in this world without YOU!
Call right now at 713-384-9793 or click on the button below and put that fear of getting a massage behind you.
The elderly population is very dear to my heart and I work diligently to get the word out about how beneficial massage is for them. I have seen first hand the impact that touch can have on an elderly person. Their eyes light up and many begin to open up and talk and laugh. All I may be doing is massaging their hands or feet, lightly massaging their shoulders and arms or gently rubbing their back. Touch is powerful! Massage just simply makes them feel better.
Elderly people can really benefit from regular massage as it’s such an enjoyable and relaxing, non-invasive way to help manage the inevitable symptoms that go hand in hand with getting older. Most of us enjoy a massage to help us ease our tension and soothe away aches and pains. There’s no doubt that a regular massage has the potential to help improve your quality of life, and this applies to elderly people who may sit for hours in a wheelchair or hours lying in a bed.
The Effects of Massage on Older People: The positive effects of massage on the health of elderly people are well documented by research. It’s been proven that the gentlest of massages can benefit the circulation and nervous system. Geriatric gentle massage is known to help stimulate the circulation naturally and without causing any discomfort so many older people are happy to give themselves over to the hands of an expert massage therapist when they are feeling tense and in need of healing touch.
One important benefit of massage: It doesn’t have any side effects and won’t interact with medications that the elderly person is taking for conditions that often affect them (diabetes, depression, Parkinson’s, dementia and other common conditions.) In some cases, physicians have been able to reduce regular medications because of regular massage sessions.
Helping counteract the signs of old age: Elderly people often suffer from symptoms caused by conditions like arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. This can often leave them with limited mobility and poor circulation. On top of this, many elderly people can report feeling depressed or even lonely. Geriatric massage can help boost their physical health, but also relieve the depression and anxiety that sometimes goes with it. It also gives older people access to comforting touch. There is even evidence that degenerative conditions like Parkinson’s have responded to regular half hour massages. I have witnessed this firsthand.
Massage for the elderly can:
How is a geriatric massage different? Geriatric massage uses some of the same techniques you’ll find in general massage but tailored to the specific needs of elderly people.
What can you do? Join with friends or family members (to help share in the cost) and treat your loved one(s) to a session(s) and put a BIG smile on their face. Give them a wonderful time to look forward to weekly or bi-monthly. Priceless!
They can receive their massage while lying on their bed or sitting/reclining in their favorite chair. They can stay dressed or undress (whichever they are comfortable with and can manage on their own with light assistance). Usually a 45 min session is all they need (this includes preparing them for the massage and maximum 30 min hands on). I travel to their home or facility so there is not any added stress on them from traveling (small travel fee.)
Massage Therapist specializing in helping women 50 and over stay active and pain free as they navigate through their senior years.