As a result of conventional cancer treatments, including surgery and radiation, I meet with many patients who are left with temporary or permanent lymphedema. In fact, several of the people we see at our clinics are already afflicted with this side effect. And while we unfortunately can’t reverse it, we can do a lot to help our patients manage their lymphedema as they make the transition to our alternative cancer treatments.
But let’s first understand what lymphedema is and its causes.
Defined as excessive swelling in an arm and/or leg, lymphedema is a side effect of some traditional cancer treatments. Symptoms include:
- fullness in your arms or legs
- less flexibility (restricted range of motion) in your wrists, hands, ankles and/or feet
- tightness or heaviness in your extremities
- aching or discomfort
- thickening and hardening of the skin (fibrosis)
Lymphedema may be barely noticeable but can also be unbearable.
Causes of Lymphedema
As I mentioned, lymphedema is commonly caused by traditional cancer therapies. And once it occurs, it’s unfortunately irreversible. While our non-toxic therapies here at Hope4Cancer won’t cause lymphedema, many of our patients find us after they’ve already undergone traditional treatments.
So what is it about conventional treatments that causes this swelling? Lymphedema often occurs when lymph nodes are surgically removed. (Learn more about lymph nodes and the entire lymphatic system here.) Lymphedema can also occur when lymph nodes are damaged as a result of radiation therapy. Removed or damaged lymph nodes clog the lymphatic system and prevent the lymph fluid from properly draining. The fluid then builds up in an appendage like an arm or leg, which causes the swelling.
Lymphedema may develop immediately after a conventional cancer treatment or months (or even years) after treatment has stopped. And while there’s no cure for lymphedema, I do recommend some ways to manage it.
The Hope4Cancer Difference
When people arrive at one of our Hope4Cancer clinics with pre-existing lymphedema – hoping to transition from conventional to alternative cancer therapies – we do everything we can to help them manage their symptoms.
First, we educate them about all aspects of lymphedema. Sometimes just helping them understand what they’re dealing with can help them cope better. We then teach them how to properly care for the affected areas. This involves cleaning the skin (especially any cuts or cracks), applying moisturizer, using compression bandages, and more.
Lastly, we emphasize whole-body care. This includes all of the following:
- Full-spectrum nutrition, which involves an individualized nutrition plan for each patient
- Exercise, which can be accomplished by the ocean at both of our beautiful, Mexico-based clinics
- Massage, which helps circulate the built-up lymph and minimize swelling
- Spiritual and emotional support, which reduces stress and, in turn, may reduce the severity of lymphedema
If you’re currently dealing with lymphedema, you can also try several management techniques at home that may help you in your daily life:
- Wear only loose clothes and loose jewelry.
- Carry your purse or bag on your unaffected side.
- Avoid crossing your legs when seated.
- Don’t wear socks or stockings with tight elastic bands.
- To prevent blood from pooling in the limb, elevate the arm or leg to a point higher than the heart when possible.
- Avoid applying heat to the limb.
While we wish everyone would find Hope4Cancer before the onset of lymphedema, we’re always here, ready to help patients manage their symptoms as they make the switch to non-toxic healing therapies that treat the entire body. Let us know if we can help you!