Almost three years ago, I became a 1 in 8 statistic. The diagnosis was early stage breast cancer. Overcoming it required surgery and 33 treatments of breast-saving radiation therapy. What does my personal battle with breast cancer have to do with soaps and lotions? Plenty! And I’d like to share what I’ve learned to help you or a loved one.
The reality is that radiation therapy causes normal breast tissue to shrink. That sure beats losing all or part of a breast, but it’s still a scary proposition. After completing my treatments, my radiologist said, "Val, if you massage your breast every day, you can keep the tissue supple and you'll be just fine."
I took my radiologist’s advice and I've massaged my skin every day since. But I also felt I deserved a little pampering for what I was going through. That’s when I discovered many of the fine soaps and skin care products available, which are now offered on FineGiftSoaps.com. After every shower, I give extra care to my breast by slathering on one of the exceptional softening and smoothing emollient lotions from Olivina, L'Occitane or Mistral — and it really works!
During my radiation treatments my skin turned red. Skin cells died off and that made my skin dry and flaky. BreastCancer.org points out that the skin’s natural moisture is also changed by chemotherapy, which reduces the oil levels glands secrete. It can alter your skin color. Itching, burning, peeling and tenderness are also common side affects.2 But some skin care products have proven to be helpful in replacing lost moisture, so you can fight back!
Experts recommend using moisturizer more frequently and gentle, moisturizing soaps or cleansing creams. But avoid soaps with heavy deodorants or scents. After radiation, skin can also become more sensitive to sun exposure and other climate-related elements, so using skin care products containing sunscreen is also a smart move (especially since skin exposed to radiation has an increased future risk of developing skin cancer).2
Before starting any new skin care massage regimen, remember to check with your doctor first. Many skin care products don’t mix with radiation therapy and can irritate your skin even more. The coaching my radiologist provided was right on. Thankfully, I am in complete remission and now happily look forward to my daily breast massage sessions.
In addition to a massage regimen for your breast, consider massage for your entire body during this traumatic time. At BreastCancer.org, they reference two studies that support the benefits of massage for cancer patients. In a University of Minnesota study, researchers found that massage helped lower anxiety and pain while also reducing the need for pain medicine. In another study from the University of Miami, the massage group reported feeling less depressed along with an increase in immune system boosting protective white blood cells.
I urge you to learn more about breast cancer at BreastCancer.org. If you’ve experienced breast cancer, please share your insights with us. Be well ... and remember that being nice to your skin, even when your skin isn’t being so nice to you, can have great benefits down the line.