Breast Health –
by Mary Kathleen Rose, CMT
We live in a culture of mixed messages about the female
breast. Breasts are to be admired and breasts are to be feared.
Breasts are beautiful, the symbol of a woman’s sexuality,
femininity and ability to nurture. Breasts are a site of pain
and life threatening disease. Beginning at an early age the
woman wonders, “ Am I attractive?” Seeing the
images and hearing the voices in the culture the woman asks,
“Are my breasts the right size and shape?” But
breasts are also the site of discomfort as well as major disease
leading many women to live in fear of their own breasts. “What
is this pain I feel? Is this lump serious? Will I be next?”
Many social, cultural and medical issues arise in a discussion
about women’s breasts. Of course we all know that the
basic biological function of the breasts is to nurture a growing
child. But few women spend more than a small percentage of
their lives performing this function. And yet our breasts
are a part of us, carrying the messages, stories and emotions
of a lifetime. Changes in the breast reflect stages of growth
in one’s life, from the budding breasts of a young girl,
to the feelings of sensuality, the experiences of monthly
cycles, the times of breastfeeding, the awareness of breasts
dictated by fashion and the issues related to health.
the dictates of fashion and culture, lifestyle and morality
are at odds, perpetuating the mix of messages a woman responds
to in her lifetime. The importance of breast size and shape
to a woman’s sense of attractiveness is reflected in
the ever increasing rate of cosmetic surgery of the breast.
“I felt so much more confident and attractive after
the surgery.” Yet the puritanical influences of culture
and religion still govern as nursing mothers are made to feel
“indecent” if they feed their baby in a public
Mainstream medicine teaches the importance of early detection
and treatment of breast disease. Women are told to do a monthly
self-exam, but few are ever shown by a health professional
what that exam should entail. Many women have told me that
they seldom do a self-exam, because they don’t really
know what they are looking for, or they are frightened by
what they might find.
Most women have little or no knowledge of the functional
anatomy of their own breasts. I think it is ludicrous to give
a woman a little card explaining the importance of doing an
exam, without first giving her a lesson in the structure and
function of the breast.
The real problem with the dominant medical and media approach
to breast health is that it is based in fear. Rather than
encouraging women to know and appreciate their own breasts,
the system teaches women to fear and mistrust their own bodies
as they are told to be on the lookout for what is wrong with
them. So women feel disconnected and powerless. The television
advertising of a major health maintenance organization, targeting
the female audience, had this to say: “Is your health
in the right hands? Is your health in the hands of doctors?”
Is there a better way? I think so. While I do believe that
modern medicine has an essential role is maintaining health
and treating disease, I think that women (as well as men)
need to be educated about their bodies and take personal responsibility
for nurturing and fostering health in their own bodies. In
a humorous and engaging manner, The Breast Cancer Society
of Canada puts out a positive message in this television ad:
A group of young men offer to do breast exams. They sit on
a couch waiting for their bank of telephones to ring. As they
sit in silence, the message comes onscreen to the viewing
audience: “They’re your breasts. You do it. Examine
your breasts monthly.”
a monthly breast exam is not enough. Women need to be empowered
through education, knowledge and experience. In my work with
women I strive to help them understand the anatomy and physiology
of their breasts. I use charts, diagrams and models, as well
as teach them various techniques for self-massage. In this
atmosphere they learn to appreciate the various structures
they are feeling.
The benefits of self massage go far beyond a cursory monthly
self-exam. The massage actually helps encourage the flow of
lymph through the tissues, giving greater resiliency to the
breast tissue. It is great for the skin, as well as being
soothing to the nervous system.
In her excellent book, Breast
Cancer? Breast Health! The Wise Woman Way, Susun
S. Weed says “Regular, loving touching of our breasts
allows us to recognize normal breast changes without fear,
and gives us time to respond thoughtfully to abnormal changes.”
Self-massage does not negate the need for regular periodic
professional exams. Nor does it negate the appropriate use
of medical intervention when necessary. But it does empower
the woman to be the primary caretaker of her own body. As
she is informed and actively involved in her healthcare, she
is in the best position to make decisions about her own body.
As a certified massage therapist I have worked with many
women over the years who have experienced the range of issues
associated with breast discomfort and disease. Some simply
need the nurturing of generalized massage to relax and enjoy
relief from stress in their lives. But I have also found a
place for very specialized therapeutic massage techniques
to help women cope with a variety of concerns related to their
breasts. Massage of scar tissue can help alleviate pain after
surgery, giving greater pliability to the
Manual lymph drainage is soothing and effective in encouraging
proper lymph drainage of the upper torso. The breast and axillary
regions are very rich in lymphatic tissue which can be compromised
by surgery and/or radiation. Pregnant women and nursing mothers
have benefited from specific work to ease the pain of changing
or lactating breasts.
Therapeutic breast massage can alleviate the pain that some
women experience during their monthly cycles and it can be
used to help women with healthy breasts stay healthy. It can
be a way of teaching and encouraging them to do self-massage.
One woman who had been experiencing very painful breasts
in her third month of pregnancy, made this comment after receiving
therapeutic breast massage: “I feel great. It feels
like my breasts are a part of me now. I feel more integrated
in my body.” Another woman, who had experienced chronic
stinging pain in her breasts, said she felt wonderful after
one session, and that the pain had not returned in several
weeks. A woman, who acknowledged that she had always had emotional
issues about her body, said the breast massage made her feel
more comfortable with her breasts and her body. “It
felt safe and made me feel okay with myself.”
The techniques I use and teach are very gentle, non-invasive
and respectful of the individual needs of women. In this work
specific protocols are followed. Clear intention, communication
and consent are vital concerns. Overall my commitment is to
give women the knowledge and skills to inspire, support and
empower them to take responsibility for their own health care.
A combination of self-care, coupled with the support of knowledgeable
healthcare providers and medical assistance when necessary
should inspire women to feel empowered. It is time to release
the mask of fear that has for too long clouded the issue of
©2002 Mary Kathleen Rose
Mary Kathleen Rose, CMT, has been practicing and teaching
massage and wellness education for over 20 years. With a particular
interest in women’s health issues, she uses massage,
yoga, nutrition, herbology and expressive arts to support
women of all ages through life’s experiences and changes.
For information about private sessions, classes and workshops
she can be reached at 303-651-9375.
Resources: Debra Curties, Breast Massage. Curties-Overzet
Publications. 1999. (888-649-5411)
Mary Kathleen Rose, The Gift of Touch. Hospice of Boulder
Susun S. Weed, Breast
Cancer? Breast Health! The Wise Woman Way. Ash Tree Publishing:
TOUCH DVD - NOW AVAILABLE
This beautifully produced video introduces the viewer to
the principles and techniques of Comfort Touch, a nurturing
form of acupressure massage designed to be safe and appropriate
for the elderly and the ill. Drawing on her many years of
experience practicing and teaching this work in home-care
and medical settings, Mary Kathleen Rose shares the essential
elements of Comfort Touch with demonstrations of its applications
in the seated, supine and side-lying positions.
This program will inspire the viewer - whether healthcare
professional or family caregiver - to offer the benefits of
touch to those for whom conventional massage may cause discomfort
or even injury. While Comfort Touch provides soothing relief
for the elderly and the ill, it can enhance the quality of
life for anyone in need of a caring touch.
Includes 40-page Video Guide, complete with Principles and
Techniques of Comfort Touch, Benefits of Comfort Touch, Precautions
in the Use of Touch and Self-Care Exercises for the Caregiver.
for $29.00 plus shipping.
About Breast Cancer? by Susun Weed
Ways to Prevent Breast Cancer by Susun Weed
Health book by Susun Weed - read the review
Your Metabolism - do you understand
Beech - Natural Competitive Bodybuilder
How many people do you know that carry a little bit extra
around their waist and then say to you "it can't be helped
I have a Slow metabolism". Probably a few if not many
have said this to me and they obviously just do not understand
their metabolism. Though metabolism does play a big part in
weight gain, if you are gaining weight year after year, it
may be time to try and better understand yours.
First of all the term metabolism refers to the rate that
your body burns calories. The more active you are the more
calories your body will burn, so if you take in (eat) more
calories than you burn in a day you will gain weight and vice
versa if you eat less than you burn then you will lose weight.
Your metabolism is partly genetic, but it is also very much
affected by how you choose to live your life. Your metabolism
will tend to slow down with age but it can be increased by
choosing a healthy diet and participating in a regular exercise
program. Lifting weights is the best exercise because as your
muscles become larger and stronger they will burn more calories
even while you sleep.
Women tend to have lower metabolic rates, meaning that they
need fewer calories than men to maintain the same body weight.
you are attempting to lose weight and increase your metabolism
avoid "Metabolism Booster" products and crash dieting.
While studies have shown only a negligible metabolism increase
from these booster products, they have been known to cause
diarrhea, increased heart rate, perspiration, and nervousness.
Crash dieting will actually slow your metabolism down and
cause you to gain weight faster once you stop dieting. This
is because your body destroys hard earned calorie burning
muscle tissue and holds onto its non-calorie burning fat reserves
because it believes you are starving to death. Not to mention
you will experience less energy and your thought processes
will be more sluggish.
The best approach is to exercise and focus on a healthy diet.
Here are some tips that work:
A. never skip breakfast, it is much more important than dinner
as you will use this energy throughout your daily activities.
B. eat smaller meals every 2 ½ - 3 ½ hrs. This
will cause your digestive system to work more often resulting
in more calories burned and a steadier supply of nutrients
to the body.
C. plan your meals ahead. You will be less likely to make
poor food choices if you have a plan.
D. increase your whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables
in your diet. They are low in calories and very filling.
e. MOVE!! Swim, dance, hike, bike, workout, walk with someone,
you need to start exercising!
If you are looking for the magic get thin and fit pill, trust
me, you will not find it. All you will end up finding is a
bunch of hype and marketing gimmicks that really do not work.
But, a steady, determined approach to increase your metabolism
thru diet and exercise will.
Wishing you success in all your health and fitness goals.
Breast Cancer? Breast Health!
The Wise Woman Way
by Susun S. Weed.
Foreword by Christiane Northrup, MD
380 pages, index, profusely illustrated.
Foods, exercises, and attitudes to keep your breasts healthy. Supportive complimentary medicines to ease side-effects of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or tamoxifen.
Retails for $21.95
Read a Review
Read some excerpts:
Mammograms - Who Needs Them? from Breast Cancer? Breast Health!
Using Herbs Safely from Breast Cancer? Breast Health!
My Anti-Cancer Lifestyle from Breast Cancer? Breast Health!
Order BREAST CANCER? BREAST HEALTH! in our Bookshop
What a gift to women of all ages! This book helped me overcome my fear of what I might discover during self-examination. I am so grateful that this book came my way and I am healthier in mind, body, and spirit thanks to Ms. Weed's wise words! If I could, I would give a copy of this book to every woman in the world!
Menopause, Phytoestrogens and Breast Health - 2 CD Set
Phytoestrogens and Breast Health
2 CD Set - Susun S Weed -
7th International Herb Symposium 2005
(Length - 1 Hour/57 Minutes)
Order Menopause, Phytoestrogens and Breast Health CD Set in our Bookshop