Cancer. The Big C. Whatever you choose to call it, a cancer diagnosis can be a life changing event for many people. In 2015, statistics show that there were 822 registered diagnoses of cancer per day (Office for National Statistics), and that’s not taking into account the strain that can be placed on family and friends. Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK for women with a 1:8 lifetime risk of developing it. The impact cancer can have on a person emotionally, spiritually, physically, and mentally can be profound, and whilst survival rates are good, treatment can have a debilitating effect.
Approximately 20% of people who have had treatment for breast cancer have developed secondary lymphoedema of the arm. Lymphoedema is defined as the swelling of tissue in a response to a failure of the lymphatic system (in this scenario it is often the surgical removal of lymph nodes to prevent the cancer spreading). Our bodies produce up to 4-5 litres of lymph per day, so its no wonder that the interruption of this system can have consequences. People with lymphoedema of the arm describe intense swelling which restricts movement, causes pain, and can impact negatively on body image. Whilst survival rates are thankfully high for breast cancer, people who have developed lymphoedema are more likely to experience emotional and psychological difficulties than those who didn’t, and research suggests that they also experience a generally lower quality of life.
So, how on Earth can Reflexology help with something like this?
We are fortunate in our profession to have deeply passionate and committed therapists who want to enhance and explore new ways of improving health with Reflexology, and that’s exactly what Sally Kay did in 2012. Working in an outpatients cancer clinic, she comprehensively researched and developed a new technique: Reflexology Lymphatic Drainage (RLD).
RLD focuses specifically on the lymphatic system and has been shown to be effective in reducing secondary lymphoedema. Research in 2018 showed that people experienced reduced pain and swelling from the treatment, and because it focuses on the lymphatic reflex areas on the feet (rather than directly on the affected limb), it was considered comfortable and even ‘pleasant’ by participants.
I started to study Reflexology because I saw how much it helped people, even it it’s classic form. It was during my initial studies that Sally Kay’s research reached me, and I was determined to learn this treatment to help people who had undergone what can be a harrowing journey.
I greatly look forward to bringing RLD to the people of Shrewsbury, and I will be in contact with local hospices to see how they may also benefit from having a practitioner available there. According to the RLD register, there are currently only two other practitioners in the county (one in Market Drayton, the other Newport), so please do get in contact with them if that area is closer for you (please visit http://www.reflexologylymphdrainage.co.uk/england.html for further details.)
Otherwise I greatly look forward to bringing this amazing treatment to the Shrewsbury community.
If you would like further information, or would like to try the treatment, please get in contact (please see contact page for details).