As the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, I am struck by the devastation of the diagnosis and the few resources made available to women post treatment. If you are like me and watched someone you love go through very grueling breast cancer treatment, or have undone breast cancer treatment yourself, you are probably very aware that the effects of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy drugs wreak havoc on the body. Although my mother had excellent life-saving care, she was provided very little information about what to do moving forward. Common side-effects following cancer treatment are emotional changes and memory issues; swelling/lymphedema; fatigue; decrease in arm/shoulder mobility; neuropathy; and postural imbalance.
However, according to the Nation Center for Biotechnology Information, several studies have shown the tremendous benefits of Pilates Post Breast Cancer Surgery. A literature research and review through March 2017 of five studies showed that Pilates or home-based exercises are better than no exercise in each individual study. Also found was that significant improvements were evident in the Pilates groups as compared to home-based exercises. Improvements were observed in range of motion, pain and fatigue. The conclusion was that the evidence showed that Pilates or home-based exercise should be encouraged to women with breast cancer.
A regular Pilates practice can promote circulation in the arms, ankles and feet, reduce swelling and increase range of motion in the arms following surgery. Deep breathing through-out a series of intentional movement helps reduce stress which helps the mind and body heal. Eve Gentry, a modern dancer and protégé of Joseph Pilates underwent a radical mastectomy in 1955. Chronic joint and back issues led her to Joseph Pilates’ studio where she worked as a teacher with Joseph Pilates from 1938 until 1968. Following breast cancer surgery in 1955, she returned to Joseph Pilates for help. The surgery had removed so much muscle she wasn’t able to lift her arms. With Joe’s training method she was able to return to dance within 12-months. Even eventually went on to co-found The Institute for Pilates Method in 1991. She lived to be 84 years old.
If you or some you know needs help following breast cancer treatment, give us a call. We are a supportive and private space and are happy to answer questions about how we can help.