Just over a year ago we sat down to talk with our awesome therapist, Ayla Rain about her diagnosis with cancer. Here is an update on the ins and outs of her journey over the last year:
1. Since we last spoke (about a year ago) what is the progress with your diagnosis?
It’s good! I have 1, maybe 2 more surgeries before the reconstruction is complete and there’s little to no chance of recurrence since I had both breasts removed instead of only the affected one.
2. What all have you done outside of your surgeries since then to help aid in your recovery?
Physically, stretching and resistance training have been saviors! I focus on strengthening my core and add in motions involving my shoulders/arms. All fascial stretching & strength training involving rotation and stabilizing while moving has pulled me out of a lot of problems that had developed as a result of having multiple surgeries in close succession over 3.5 years! That’s a lot!
Just exercising in general, in whatever capacity works, has been amazing in that it gives me something to look forward to & helps me feel better emotionally and physically.
Emotionally, knowing that I can keep living keeps me in touch with what I want for myself while I still have the chance and ability to see what that is. That feeling of liberty has been just as beneficial as any physical exercise. I’ve shed, shaken, and plucked off all kinds of unhealthy energies from my daily experiences and the liberation has given me so much space to focus on my own healing and rebuilding.
3. How is daily life?
100% different. In every way. I’d already been living a mobile life since getting the Dx in 2018. I lost my income due to needing surgeries, Dr visits, radiation, appts etc so there went the ability to pay for things and drive myself anywhere. I couldn’t move my arms properly for months. Anyway, a new way of living developed over the next couple of years and 6 surgeries. Then Covid hit and sealed the deal. My snowglobe has been shook, then it got dropped, and shook up again. Life’s a little different but it’s LOADED with gratitude, grace, & a LOT of humor!
4. What are some things you would tell others going through a similar diagnosis that you found out during your treatments and post-op that would have been helpful to know before.
Diagnoses may be similar but everyone’s journey is individual so I can only speak to my experience but all in all, I had things easy. I didn’t go through Chemotherapy, only radiation. You have to let other people help you. It’s essential to your healing. Life isn’t over, it’s being redirected and you might like the outcome but it’s ok to freak out and be scared and go through all the things that this crisis brings. Just have support close by.
5. How did massage help you post-op and through your diagnosis?
It helped me realize where I should focus my own strength and stretching program. It also helped me with getting back in touch with my own body after all the changes that happened to it. I lost a lot of modesty and turned my situation into a learning experience for myself and the therapists who felt confident working with me. Breast tissue is a highly controversial area in the arena of massage. It takes a grounded, trained professional to even consider this type of scar tissue work and an extraordinarily brave client who will relive the experience to a degree once work in the area begins. Emotions surface during bodywork, it’s part of healing.
6. Anything else you want to add?
I’ve had it easy, really. Health insurance coverage is everything. Our system needs to change in a way that takes care of all of our healthcare needs. My struggle is tough but I’m being monitored by my Docs to watch my overall health, any recurrences, and for bone density changes. I’m on 2 medications now in addition to Calcium & extra Vit D. The primary one is to block estrogen (my type of tumor fed on it) & the new one is to counter the side effect the first one has of leaching minerals from my bones. Even though I take Ca & Vit D, I’ve since been Dx with Osteopenia, a precursor to Osteoporosis, that was induced by the medication.
All that being said, my life as it looks now, with 2 more small surgeries coming up before it’s ALL behind me, is going fine.