In course 3.10 of the 3rd module “Overview of Breast Cancer Rehab”, we discuss the “Self-Care” that physiotherapists can teach breast cancer survivors. Click the link to view and register in the e-Learning Academy in Breast Cancer Rehab for Physiotherapists and Health Care Professionals

After discharge from the hospital there are key Self-Care Practices that physiotherapists can teach breast cancer survivors to do at home and when going on winter or sun-filled vacations. These “practices” are most relevant to breast cancer survivors whose cancer treatment included an axillary lymph node clearance (ALND) more than for those after a sentinel lymph node dissection (SLND), when a few nodes were sampled.

In this context, a “practice” is an activity breast cancer survivors learn to do routinely as part of their everyday self-care. Today’s practices are part of the meticulous skin care group of practices. The benefits are worth it, as they reduce both the risks of cellulitis and the risks of progressing breast-cancer-related-lymphedema. We have selected 4 practices from course 3.10 just to give you an idea of what these practices are all about, for example, breast cancer survivors who have had a total lymph node dissection may consider the following:

1. Keep a well-stocked first-aid kit handy to treat bites, skin cuts and nicks, e.g. an anti-bacterial and an anti-itch cream and band aids to keep the skin clean.

2. Donn protective gloves when using an oven and when gardening especially when pruning thorny rose bushes.

3. Protect yourself from sun burns and skin cancer by donning sun hats and sun-glasses to protect your face, ears and eyes; long sleeve shirts and swim suits with arm sleeves to protect the skin of the chest and arms; and before going out into the sunshine apply sun block with an SPF > 50.

4. Before going on holidays, especially those locations with mosquitos and bugs, bring repellent spray to prevent bites in the first place and ask your GP for a script for Penicillin that you can fill and pack if you do get bitten and so can self-manage cellulitis early.