Breasts are body tissues with their own health needs. At some point in time, most women will experience breast congestion, breast pain, discomforts of diagnostic or surgical procedures, and anxieties about lumps or other changes in their breast tissues. Pregnancy and breastfeeding have their set of associated breast tissue needs. Unfortunately, many women experience physical and psychological trauma related to their breasts. And then there is breast cancer — impacting directly on the lives of many women, and indirectly on all of us.
Kate was 35 years old when she was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer in her left breast. A modified radical mastectomy was performed and the breast was gone forever. It was several weeks later when the emotional shock set in. She thought, “Oh, God, what did they do to me? Where is my breast? In the hospital trash? Is it in a jar of embalming fluid? What did it look like? Was it in pieces or chunks? Couldn’t I have taken it home and buried it?” She felt the need for closure with her loss. She wanted a mourning process with her breast.1
One in 10 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her life. This is one of the most frightening, potentially lethal experiences a woman can have. Massage therapists can be of service to women during this critical time in their lives. This is the story of how massage therapy benefited one such woman.
In one way or another, cancer has left its mark upon us all. It has touched my own life many times. As I watched friends, family members and clients fight their own intimate battles with the disease, I realized I was being given the opportunity to grow and learn from each experience.