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Lymphoedema, life after Breast Cancer and Reflexology

In 1988, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. This was successful but I was left with secondary lymphoedema in my left arm, a swelling in my arm following breast cancer treatments.

Over the years, I have received various maintenance treatments and participated in a number of trials all aimed at curing and relieving the swelling. Nothing has worked leaving me with excessive aches and pain in my neck and shoulder, a swollen heavy arm which I was unable to lift too high, the daily use of a support sleeve helping my arm not to swell too much, the daily intake of antibiotics preventing me get infections and attack of cellulitis. Any slight injury to my skin can cause a serious infection which can take hold very quickly.

After almost 30 years of suffering with my arm, by chance I was invited to be part of a case study with Cécile Rainsford, a local trained reflexologist at Ped à Terre Reflexology who was taught by Sally Kay, the founder and research of Reflexology Lymph Drainage RLD, as part of her training Cécile is required to submit a case study.

Sally Kay is a multi-award winning reflexology practitioner, tutor and published researcher. Sally has developed RLD from first principles and through extensive clinical practice. This innovative approach to reflexology has attracted national and international awards, and widespread recognition. RLD focuses initially on reducing secondary lymphoedema, but further evidence from a growing body of case studies suggests RLD may be useful for clients with non-cancer related, auto-immune disorders eg. Rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, allergies, migraines.

I received four RLD treatments with Cécile who measured my arm volume before and after each treatment which revealed a reduction of lymph fluid in my left arm. My left arm was initially 32% bigger than my non-swollen arm. Amazingly my arm has retained its reduced size after each treatment, it is now 20% bigger than my non-swollen arm. My arm can never be normal size again due to the removal of the lymph nodes but to regain a respectable shape and reduced size is astonishing and life changing.

I have continued to have reflexology sessions with my fantastic reflexologist, Cécile at Ped à Terre Reflexology as I find them so beneficial. Not only am I benefiting from relief in my arm but the reflexology is making a massive difference to my wellbeing and my immune system. The aches and pains in my neck and shoulder related to the treatment I had all those years ago have gone; my blood pressure has improved; the backache I suffer with has rescinded; my legs do not ache as much as they used to when I have been on my feet a lot due to my work; I can now lift my arm above my head; I am more relaxed and at ease with life in general.

The RLD treatment leaves you feeling totally relaxed and completely chilled out. The professionalism of Cécile, the ambiance of the treatment room is perfect, and the ability to just totally relax during the treatment is wonderful. When the treatment is over, there is a feeling of being unable to move and 100% relaxed mood. My arm feels much lighter too.

Maggie Eacott is wearing Brave Ladies Swimwear

I am so thankful to Cécile for making this possible and hope that the RLD research can continue for others suffering similarly, and to be a recognised treatment within the NHS and positive results can influence any medical specialists who deal with patients like me on a daily basis.

Thank you again to the wonderful work of Sally Kay and for Cécile Rainsford who has shown great passion in practising RLD.

Further research into RLD and Reflexology is being carried out at Cardiff Met.

University, School of Health Sciences.

Further details and support can be found:

Royal Marsden Hospital

Lymphoedema Support Network

Sally Kay – more information and to find your local qualified RLD practitioner

Cécile Rainsford, Ped à Terre Reflexology

To find a qualified Reflexologist go to 'find a reflexologist'

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