Judith was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019 and treated with a lumpectomy and lymph gland removal. This was followed by a course of radiotherapy which resulted in an open wound on her skin and cellulitis. Here she tells how Rennie Grove’s scar therapy service supported her recovery. She says:
“I was initially referred to Rennie Grove for counselling following my treatment and once I met the team, they suggested that I might benefit from scar therapy. As the actual scar from my surgery had healed well, I didn’t think it was particularly relevant to me. However, I was experiencing a lot of discomfort at the site of the burns caused by radiotherapy so I decided to give it a go.
“I thought it might at least help me to understand which creams would be best to treat the area. But on reflection, I’m so glad I decided to go for it. It was a very rewarding experience and I got so much more out of it than I anticipated.”
Judith was referred for a course of four sessions. Speaking about how it helped her in her recovery, she says:
“The first session helped me to overcome the fear I had about my scar and painful breast following the surgery. I was encouraged to touch the area by holding my fingertip over various places along the scar line. The therapist demonstrated and explained that this would encourage the blood to flow and the nerves to be stimulated. The results from this were incredible, it helped to reduce sensitivity in the area and by the second session, a stabbing pain that I had been experiencing had gone.
“Through learning to touch and massage the area, gradually my breast stopped being something alien and I could see that it was just a changed part of my body. It was suggested that the scar might respond to a silicone cream and that is something that I still use now.
“In the second session I learned that it isn’t just the scar on the surface of the skin that matters, but what is happening to the tissue beneath it and how that reacts to trauma. The therapist taught me some useful massage techniques to gently soften the hard and thickened areas around my breast.
“The therapist also looked beyond the initial area of the surgery and considered how nearby areas of my body had been impacted. The pain in my breast and armpit had made my back, shoulder and side very tense and tight. We both felt that this was contributing to the general pain. The therapist taught me how to massage these areas which was very effective. I also learned tools to use in everyday life, such as relaxing my shoulder and checking that I’m not stooping in a bid to protect my breast.”
“The scar therapy clinic gave me an otherwise rare experience of having the time to try and explain my pain and more importantly, feeling listened to. It can often feel like medical people are short of time, but with both the scar therapy clinic and my lymphoedema nurse at the hospital, the therapists really took time to listen to me and equip me with the tools I needed to move forward with my new situation."
“Equipping me for the future really was a big part of the therapy. For example, the therapist thoroughly examined my breast and reassured me that the healing process would just take time. This drove home to me the importance of keeping up with the massage and exercises they had shown me, indefinitely.
“This approach allowed me to feel in control of how I progressed and my ability to support myself through recovery and beyond.
“The words of kindness and support that I experienced at the scar therapy clinic were a balance to the rigours of chemotherapy and its side effects. Together with the counselling I feel very lucky to have received such a holistic approach to my care from Rennie Grove, with each part representing a vital landmark in my recovery.”
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Our complementary therapy team boosts well-being for patients and their carers with massage, reiki, aromatherapy, reflexology, scar therapy and more.