Lymphatic Drainage for Laryngeal Cancer Patients
What is Laryngeal Cancer?
Massage is vital to Cancer patients
Cancer seems to be running more rampant than ever, as we are seeing more and more of it in our daily lives. Cancer doesn't target any specific person. Lung Cancer in smokers was the only type of cancer I remember growing up, and it made sense to me. You defile your body with cigarette smoke and this is what happens. Not the case anymore. Our young friends are being diagnosed with Breast Cancer, our old friends are being diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Our children are being diagnosed with Leukemia and brain tumors. We can all name one person we know who has some form of cancer. It's scary to think that we are not immune to this monster.
There are things we can do to help prevent cancer, like eating cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli, we can exercise to stay healthy and we can also get regular massages. Massage is such a vital part of our health because it helps with circulation, removing toxins through lymphatic drainage, and produces endorphins which are what I like to call our "internal happy drug".
A special case of Laryngeal Cancer
In the case of a Cancer Patient named Bill, he was diagnosed with Laryngeal Cancer and needed a feeding tube because the lymph that collected under his chin disabled him from eating, swallowing, and even speaking clearly. Imagine a bullfrog with the "bubble" underneath its chin and that's what would happen with Bill. He would get a pocket of fluid underneath his chin because the radiation he received for his treatments killed those lymph nodes. He would leave work at noon every other day and travel to the hospital to have the lymph manually drained.
I accompanied Bill to his treatment one day and saw the process of the lymph drainage the therapist administered, In Bill's case, he was treated unlike a typical patient with Laryngeal Cancer because the tumor that was in his throat on his larynx was fixed between it and his carotid artery. One wrong move and it could burst which could be fatal.
It took Bill's therapist an hour and 20 minutes to completely drain the fluid that collected in his throat underneath his chin. The movements and strokes were vitally important and this type of therapy takes extreme patience.
After I watched her and felt comfortable enough, I began to administer his therapy. I don't think I have ever been so focused in my life than when I was working on Bill. It was very systematic and specific and tedious. Bill was sitting up in a chair and I was behind him working on his chest, neck, and chin. The time went by extremely slowly and I didn't speak since I was completely focused. I had taken care of other patients who needed lymphatic drainage, but because of the nature of this case and the position of the tumor, this was my greatest accomplishment in my massage career. It was also of greatest importance to me to take extra special care of this particular patient because he wasn't just anybody, he was my father-in-law. I needed to work on him. My own father died when I began my teenage years and he didn't get a second chance to live. Bill was an important person in my life and my husband's father and I was obligated to make sure he was taken care of and comfortable.
Larynx in relation to the Carotid Artery & Jugular Vein
Your treatment plan
If you have been diagnosed with a cancer, what was your treatment, if any?
Stage I and II of Laryngeal Cancer
Why massage works
When you receive a therapeutic massage, your body is able to relax while muscles are being manipulated and toxins are being released. Your circulation is at its best as blood flow brings oxygen to all parts of your body and lymph is moving at a steady pace, collecting toxins and preparing your body to eliminate them.
A lymphatic drainage massage is not a deep tissue or vigorous sports massage, rather a light, superficial massage with circular motions. When you want a deeper massage that really targets your muscles, the therapist has to apply firm pressure, whereas your lymph is right below the surface of your skin, above your muscles, thus allowing for much lighter touch. Circular movements get the lymph flowing at a faster pace, as it generally is a very slow-moving process. This type of massage is one that is very relaxing and yet is so powerful because of the nature of the strokes. Not all massage therapists perform lymphatic drainage so make sure you have someone qualified in this department. You will automatically benefit from lymph drainage with your typical massage because most therapists use lighter strokes at some point during the massage, but if this is the type of massage you need, you need a therapist who is familiar with where the lymph nodes are in the anatomy and you need a therapist who has the correct intent.
The intent is important when giving a good massage because it gives the therapist a focal point and a purpose to fulfill.
It is also important after receiving a lymphatic drainage massage to drink plenty of water in the hours afterwards. When you experience a massage, your body is releasing toxins, metabolic waste, etc, and these toxins need some place to go. If you don't drink your water and flush those toxins out of your body, they have no place to go but right back where they came from, and then that's when you wake up the next day feeling sore, stiff, and like you got hit by a truck. You could also experience cold-like symptoms from toxic overload, so please, drink plenty of water after your massage. Please try and stay away from anything caffeinated and alcoholic afterwards, as these dehydrate you and since massage is also dehydrating, it's not a good combination. You will end up undoing the benefits of your massage and you will end up feeling worse than you did before you got on the massage table.
So what are you waiting for?
Summing up the lymphatic drainage massage, please be sure to keep these important points in mind:
- Get a clearance from your oncologist before embarking on the massage journey. While massage is healthy and enjoyable, you need to be cleared from any contraindications that may arise from your particular treatment,
- When you are given the okay to get massages, if you are specifically looking to get lymphatic drainage, make sure your therapist is qualified. Most likely your doctor's office or hospital has a list of qualified therapists to choose from.
- Work with your therapist regarding a good schedule. If you are still undergoing treatment in the form of chemotherapy or radiation, your best day may be the day before your treatments since sometimes chemotherapy makes you nauseous and tired.
- Lighter, superficial touch is relaxing and promotes a feeling of well-being and releases endorphins, your internal "happy drug".
- Your massage therapist might just be your best friend during your treatments, He or she will listen to you and while they are not doctors who can diagnose issues, they are health care providers with extensive knowledge in anatomy, muscles, and your well-being. Tell them how you feel, what you are experiencing, your fears, your accomplishments, and any other concerns you may have.
Depending on where you live and what your treatment options are, make sure you research your treatments, doctors, hospitals and make sure your team of experts listens to you and gives you options for treatments. Thank you for reading, I hope this was an informative read for you and I wish you success with your diagnosis if you have one.
Yours in good health,
Amazing treatment options
- Treatment options and side effects
Dr. Geoffrey Geiger, University of Pennsylvania, outlines the course of radiotherapy treatment and side effects for head and neck cancers.