After MLD I feel as if I had chemotherapy. Why?

by Natalie

I had breast cancer 4 years ago & had a mastectomy and full axial clearance. I developed lymphoedema in my left arm before receiving chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

I kept the swelling under control for 3 years with compression sleeves and nordic pole walking, but last autumn I moved house and moved too many heavy boxes, and did too little exercise.

My arm has since swollen and was referred by my local lymphoedema nurse for MLD.

I have had two sessions so far. The first one this Monday. The second this Thursday. On Tuesday and today, Friday, I have been feeling ill, and all I've wanted to do is to sleep. I have been also been feeling dizzy and have a mild headache. I have been drinking water to try and remove what I assume are toxins. On Wednesday I was fine again and I am hoping that that will be the case again tomorrow.

But I feel so awful that it makes me feel as if I'm going through chemotherapy all over again.

Surely the chemo drugs can't still be in my lymph system four years later, can they?

What is making me feel so ill?

PS I've also been suffering from chemobrain and fatigue as well over the last 4 years.

Regina writes:
Hi Natalie,

Well done for keeping your lymphoedema under control with a sleeve and exercise. It is so easy to overdo it, unfortunately in your case it affected your arm.

By now you should have had a few more sessions of MLD. Are you still feeling ill after them? And most importantly, is your arm any better after the course of MLD? What did the lymphoedema nurse say to your reaction?

I do have a few who feel ill after such a gentle treatment. I don't think there is a "scientific" explanation for this, but MLD brings out "things" that are in your system, for example if you are fighting a cold, MLD can bring it on. Perhaps there were some chemotherapy drugs in your lymph glands and now they are washed into your system, ultimately discharged though your kidneys. Your suffering from chemobrain and fatigue suggest that your life is not quite back to normal. Let's hope the MLD clears this ....

I hope your reaction to MLD has become less severe. Some people do react though. If you find it too much, you could try bandaging, for example with Coban. That is newish system and very easy to wear.

I hope by the time you read this you have come through at the other end with your arm being well managed with the sleeve.

All the best with your treatment,
With warm regards,

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