alexandra backshellSo the second time I was told I had cancer it was found in my lymphatic system.

A lump in my arm pit confirmed my worst fear……they hadn’t removed my melanoma in time and it had spread to my lymph nodes.

Another grim day in the doctors office!

Although there was a slight whiff of optimism in the air….an operation…but it had to be done immediately.

Within twenty minutes I found myself sat in front of a very dashing but intense surgeon telling me about the operation I was going to have.

“So Alex, we are going to do a double axillary lymph node removal. We usually operate on one side, let the patient recover then do the other side, but due to the nature of your situation we have to act fast and do both sides at the same time. It will be nine hours of surgery and quite a full on recovery. I have been doing lymp node surgry for years but I have only done this particular type of operation twice, but don’t worry I will have a great team working with me.”

Great……that’s just what I needed to hear when I was signing on the dotted line giving my consent to go ahead! All I was hoping was that the surgeon and his team get a good night sleep before my op!!!

lymphI now know why they usually do one side and wait to do the other as the recovery was absolutely horrendous, but after a few months I began physiotherapy and felt my arms were healing and I was getting back on track. 

The GOLDEN RULE after having my lymph node surgery was no needles, and avoid any trauma to my arms  because without a fully functioning lymphatic system it would be harder to fight  infection.  But unfortunately a year down the line I had to have chemo, emergency IV and all kinds of crazy stuff that had to be injected into my arms……and that’s when my problems began.

I started getting  a tight heavy feeling around my arms and wrists and  when I couldn’t get my rings or watch on, I had a gut wrenching feeling I was developing lymphedema. My arms were starting to look like Popeye’s !!

Lymphedema or lymphatic obstruction is a chronic condition in which excess fluid (lymph) collects in tissues causing edema (swelling). Lymphedema occurs when your lymph vessels are unable to drain lymph fluid which then causes blockages. This condition develops when lymph vessels or lymph nodes are missing, impaired, damaged or removed.IMG_1970[1]


Dealing with lymphatic problems over the past few years has made me realise that a good functioning lymphatic system is vital. When this system is working properly it can help us avoid so much sickness, low energy, mental fog and potential disease in the future.

So what is lymph…. 

…’s simply our garbage removal system,  filtering and eliminating toxins.  

In more technical terms….

The lymphatic system is a network of tubes throughout the body that drains fluid (called lymph) from tissues and empties it back into the bloodstream. The main roles of the lymphatic system include managing the fluid levels in the body, filtering out bacteria, and housing types of white blood cells. Lymph is filtered through the spleen, thymus and lymph nodes before being emptied into the blood.


And did you know…..

You have more lymphatic fluid in your body than blood!! We have a circulatory system for the blood to build the tissues and the lymphatic system is for all the waste!

Headaches, cellulite, excess weight that you can’t shift and arthritis are just some signs that you may have a sluggish lymphatic system, so it’s mucho importanto to keep this system flowing smoothly and give it a good spring clean once in a while. And with part of mine missing now I knew I  really had to up my game!

So what did I do….

IMG_0473[1]I learnt to breath…properly

The lymph has no organ to pump it so it relies on the pumping action of deep breathing, this is the heartbeat for your lymph. Deep breathing helps the lymph transport toxins into the blood before they are detoxified by the liver. That’s why Yoga and meditation play a key role in my healing practise…its all about the breath!

You know this one…

Is there anything to do with improving your health that does not involve water. You’re drinking your two litres a day right! Drinking water really maximises your lymphatic flow and helps flush the toxic build up out. I often add fresh lemon or a pinch of salt to my water.

Exercise is your lymphatic systems bestie..IMG_1975[1]

There is nothing that gets your lymph moving more than exercise and any kind of exercise is good. But re-bounding is the best.  Most mornings I do about five to ten minutes on my re-bounder. This helps pump and decongest the lymphatic fluid in my entire body. Its especially good if you have a sluggish lymphatic system like mine. I also find it gives me a great energy boost first thing which is just what I need….I’m not the best morning person!

Dry body brushing

Another simple technique that is highly effective when it come to releasingIMG_1977[1] lymph congestion. Just a few minutes each day before you shower helps to stimulate the lymphatic flow. And as an added bonus it gets rid of dead skin cells to give you super smooth skin and helps reduce cellulite . Always brush in the direction towards your heart.♥

♥ A good old sweat

Unfortunately I am not a fan of sweating, never have been. Whenever I exercise I usually stop as soon as I feel like I’m beading up! It’s something I’m still working on! Fortunately over the last few years I have found a way that I actually enjoy sweating, having an Infrared sauna. Different to your standard type of sauna, Infrared  saunas allow the body to sweat while in parasympathetic nervous mode, so toxins are being sweated out. The circulation/release of toxins, the regeneration of tissues, and the heat all work together to improve lymph flow. I will cover this topic in more detail in a future blog post as the health benefits of Infrared Sauna Therapy are exceptional. I’m  a huge fan

So what did I eliminate from my diet..

All chemical foods that contained artificial preservatives, flavours, colours and stabilizers. I avoid foods that are difficult for the body to digest, including fatty foods, animal protein, refined sugar, and the whites….white pasta, bread, rice, white flour and any white-flour products as they require massive amounts of energy to handle the rapid blood sugar fluctuations. This energy is better served to cleanse your lymph.

Foods can either help or hinder the flow of lymph in the body.  

What did I load up on…….

 ……..foods high in essential fatty acids as they are critical to ensure a properly functioning lymph system. Avocados, raw nuts like walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds, flaxseeds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Healthy fats will protect and nourish your lymph system.

leafy greens♥ I eat and juice tons of leafy greens as it is an excellent way to enrich the lymph with chlorophyll. This molecule helps to purify your blood which in turn cleanses your lymph. Top of my list was kale, chard, spinach, green lettuce, mustard greens and broccoli.

 Citrus fruits have astringent properties that increase lymph flow and remove any blockages, that’s why I always add lemon to my water. Berries are really good as they are packed with antioxidants which keep our immune system strong so the lymph system doesn’t have to work as hard to fight off disease and illness.

The key thing I learnt about the lymphatic system is that it  drains best in an alkaline environment. 

And finally….Herbs

I love mixing up cleavers, dandelion root, echinacea, nettle and burdock root to make different teas. They are all gentle but extremely effective for cleansing the lymph.

Its never to early to practise prevention so take action now and start loving your lymph, it does some serious hard graft for you! And we don’t have to do that much do we.

A bit of exercise, greens, and lots of water….and don’t forget to breath!

Have a wonderful week.

Alexandra ♥alexandra backshell