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-   -   Post-Mastectomy Training Advice for Wife (http://www.catalystathletics.com/forum/showthread.php?t=3577)

Brendan Smith 12-30-2008 01:10 PM

Post-Mastectomy Training Advice for Wife
My wife is 45 yo and had a double mastectomy in Feb 08. She's now completed all reconstruction and is able to start working out in some fashion. For background, she didn't have cancer but had 5 prior breast surgeries to remove abnormalities, had a terrible family history of breast cancer, and was at high enough risk that the doctors finally convinced her to have the mastectomies. She is atheletic (former gynmast and cheerleader) and wants to do some exercise but is afraid of what she can do safely with implants (i.e., work on her pecs might be risky).

Looking for advice on functional workouts she can do. I'd like to offer her good Crossfit options as alternatives beyond what some trainers at the globo gym will likely suggest. I can imagine they'll give her workouts that just involve sitting on a ball or some a BB trainer will suggest having her do isolation work. Any thoughts?

She's been fully cleared by her doctors to begin exercise slowly with penty of support.

BTW, I also posted this question on the CrossFit main page board. Appreciate any advice.

Garrett Smith 12-30-2008 03:25 PM



Although you won’t be able to return to a regular fitness routine right after getting breast implants, you shouldn’t have any trouble with exercise once you’re fully healed.

“I can honestly say that some of my clients, both celebrities and non-celebrities, have breast implants, and it has never gotten in the way of exercises I prescribed,” says Chicago-based trainer Jim Karas. “I do know that right after surgery, you should be careful for as long as your doctor recommends.”

As with most plastic surgery, the affected area is tender and should be allowed to heal. “After that time," Karas says, "you are free to do whatever you feel is right.”
I'd also add that slamming failed push-ups into the floor or bouncing the bar off the chest bench presses would be bad ideas...:)

Steven Low 12-30-2008 04:38 PM

Let me just say that very light exercise of the pecs may be helpful. Really any exercise at all. Heightened blood flow, especially to the area, hastens the healing process. This is also why massage works as well not to mention breaking up scar tissue.

Not sure if she wants breast massages though (there is some technique to this btw.. aiming at the pec muscles and pushing fluid towards the lympathic ducts). :p

Gauging what you can do from the pain is the best bet though. That's the body's way of telling you something is wrong.

But yeah, what Garrett said is true. I've read the same thing.

sarena kopciel 12-30-2008 05:23 PM

I would say that I had very early breast cancer (or pre, DCIS) with some tissue removal about 4 years ago on my L breast. The area in question was the most lateral area, deep in the breast. My scar is small but runs on the lateral aspect if the breast nearly right under the armpit. I did not have any reconstruction nor implants etc (nor any further treatments). Thankfully all scans since that point have been negative for recurrence (2x yearly)

Now that I gave that info, I would add that I have had recurrent shoulder issues starting several months after the surgery on the R side and basically flipflopping from side to side since that time. I feel my issues them from initial overcompensation and scar tissue. I had breast massage (which is quite helpful), had/went several times for PT, etc. I currently Olift but did/do have to take off time periodically. I have also learned (thanks to my coaches) that pushups, pullups and bench presses are exercises my body does best without. It has taken me a long time and my issue wasnt as severe but I am learning to listen to my body, FINALLY!

Best of luck with her recovery. She is very fortunate she has you as her support person.

Garrett Smith 12-31-2008 04:46 AM

While I was in naturopathic school we had an ex-bodybuilder woman come into the clinic who said she had ruptured both of her implants doing leg presses (?!?!). So don't let her repeat that one, however it happened...

She had all sorts of health issues, tested positive for silicone hypersensitivity, never ended up coming back in for follow-up.

Gittit Shwartz 12-31-2008 08:33 AM

You, or she, might be able to find some helpful advice re working out with implants on the t-nation "sister site" figureathlete.com.
Best of luck to your wife in her recovery!

Brendan Smith 12-31-2008 12:27 PM

Thanks very much! I agree that some light "range of motion" stuff would help in the healing process. Thinking about starting with walking, maybe graduating to recumbent bike for some higher intensity. As for resistance exercise, just want to start with walking lunges and then onto light squats (no leg presses for sure)! In terms of upper body, gentle water aerobic type stuff might be a good start. Maybe graduate some day to light kettlebells, but agree no pushups or bench.

We'll also continue to research options for training after implants, though I worry most info will be geared toward augmentation. My wife had all breast tissue removed and implants to "replace" the tissue. This made for more extensive surgery and multiple reconstructive proceedures; hence the very cautious return to activity.

Great feedback, many thanks again!

David Stout 01-16-2009 06:17 AM

Contact Kim Malz, of the new CF Affiliate Crossfit Persevere.

She's a 38 year old mom of three and breast cancer survivor who's condition ultimately required reconstructive surgery.

She's posts as Fit Mom in CT on the CF boards (with some pretty legit results like a sub 15 Angie, and 40 straight kipping pull-ups). Super nice and responsive to emails.

Website: http://crossfitpersevere.com
Email: malzfamily@cox.net

Best of luck!


Brendan Smith 01-25-2009 11:14 AM


Thanks so much for that suggestion! We may reach out to her by e-mail. Apprecaite it.


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