A New Project

My work space… if I had a clean table, fingerprint-less laptop, and some fancy filter on my phone. AKA- it’s a stock photo.

Happy Wed-Nes-Day! (Any other adults out there who still have to sound this word out before typing besides me?) 😬

I hope that everyone has been mindful about practicing acts of self care since my last post. Or have at least put it on your radar, now that we’re aware of how important self care really is. Remember, we are all worth it!

So, I recently got a wild hair up my ass and decided that I wanted to start my “October Project” early. Like last year, I was planning to interview people in the C community. But this time around, I wanted to interview the peeps who help to support the C community via programs, organizations, etc. and not necessarily just those diagnosed- though I’ve found that these two things often intersect. I had planned to post one interview per day like last year. But as I thought about it more, I realized that I didn’t want to wait until October. Instead, I will be posting interviews from different foundations, programs, non-profits, businesses, organizations, etc. over the next several months. Hell, if I get enough interest, this could become an on-going deal.

Throughout the interviews, you’ll have a chance to meet the people behind the scenes and see just how dedicated and whole hearted they and the programs they represent sincerely are. My hope is that by showcasing each organization, more people will be able to personally find support or will have the information and can help to spread the word of these amazing people and programs.

The individuals I have been working with and gathering information from are truly special. If you find that you feel the same way and want more information or want to see how you can help, contact information will be provided. And if you know of any person or group that you would like to see included in this project and have a contact for me, let me know! I would love to be able to highlight them! Keep an eye out, I plan to post the first interview next week.

And a little note: You may have noticed that the domain name for this blog has changed from jessicafilloon.com to mamasgotthis.blog … This is in anticipation of another project I’ve been hard at work on. Stay tuned!

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Livin’ That Lymph Life

Having gone through my own share of C treatments- chemos, surgeries, and radiation sessions- I feel that I should have been more informed about the oh-so-important Lymphatic System. But the only real info I had was that surgeries (where lymph nodes were removed) and radiation treatments can cause lymphedema- swelling due to the altered flow of lymphatic fluid.  It’s something that never goes away and can have a significantly negative impact on one’s quality of life.

It wasn’t until I attended the Be Well Yoga for Cancer Recovery Teacher Training that I truly started to understand why we ALL should care about this amazing part of our bodies- diagnosis or not.  I’m so impressed by the lymphatic system that I find myself constantly fitting fun facts and ways to improve lymph movement into convos with my yoga students, my friends, family members, strangers… really, anyone who will listen… and now you!

The lymph system is pretty much the body’s sewage system. It’s like a one-way highway- a network of tiny channels that form a passage for lymph fluid to travel throughout the body- with stopping points (lymph nodes) along the way that act like trash cans.  In the lymph nodes, lymphocytes and antibodies hang out to sort through waste, searching for and removing toxic cells, dead cells, bacterias, viruses, and other foreign elements.  The lymph system then irrigates potential threats out of the body via body waste.  If the potentially dangerous cells are not removed from the body, the lymph node enlarges as a sign of infection and the rest of the immune system is notified and comes to kick some ass.

Lymph nodes are located in places like the mouth, nasal passages, neck, arm pits, and groin areas. But the largest and main lymph node is the thoracic duct.  It’s located behind the heart and lungs along the spinal column and runs from the top of the lumbar spine to the base of the neck.

So, why did I just completely nerd out on the lymphatic system?  Because all of that info was totally fascinating, right? Mind blown (poof!) And because, as important as it is to our health and immunity, this system does not have a “pump” to keep this crazy-necessary fluid moving. Instead, the lymphatic system relies on muscles, movement, and gravity to get lymph fluid moving.  Nuts, right? So it’s up to us!

Now you’re thinking “But how? How can I get this super important stuff moving?”  Oh, man. I’m glad you asked!

Breath

Simply by breathing we stimulate the flow of the lymph, and through full, deep breaths we can encourage the flow to be both cleansing and powerful. Full breaths create muscular movement and massage the thoracic duct.

Diaphragmatic (deep) breathing:

Begin by breathing in slowly through your nose, pushing the stomach out. The chest should remain relatively still on the inhale.  Slowly let your breath release out through your mouth. Full and slow diaphragmatic breathing for even just 5-10 rounds will circulate lymph fluid and oxygenate blood.

Before starting any of the exercises below…

Begin with a few rounds of diaphragmatic breathing.  Then bring your ear to your shoulder and on the opposite side, place your palm or flat fingers above the collar bone on the side of the neck.  Gently stretch the skin down while counting like a waltz~ 1-2-3 (about 5-10 times). Repeat on the other side.

Think of it this way, if you don’t open these main drains before getting the lymph moving, it would be like pressing from the bottom of a toothpaste tube with the top on… it will have no where to go. 

Movement & Yoga

The lymphatic system depends largely on muscle activity for its circulation. Though, we tend to spend a lot of time sitting, whether it’s at a desk, in a car, on the couch… and all of this sitting can lead to stagnation.  Fortunately, even minor movement can help.   Remembering to take breaks throughout the day to walk around and stretch can be really beneficial for your lymph system AND your overall wellbeing.

Yoga can help maintain lymph fluid movement via gravity (inversions), utilizing body positioning to reverse pooling of lymph fluid in the lower extremities.  Yoga also increases lymph flow with postures that cause large muscles to contract and relax- encouraging lymph to move through the body.  

Legs up the… whatever you can find. Just get them up!

Gentle self-lymphatic massages can be added to various poses to aid the flow of lymph fluid. Try very gently running/dragging the fingers from wrists towards armpits on the top, sides, and bottoms of arms- massaging near the armpits (think- while in Warrior II), as well as very gently dragging fingers from ankles to pelvic area (on all sides of the legs) and massaging around groin / hip creases (think- Staff Pose).

Lymph massage… don’t forget to massage the hip creases!

Dry Brushing

Dry skin brushing also promotes lymphatic drainage and is said to include additional benefits like refreshed skin and reduction of cellulite.  It’s best done few minutes before a shower, using a natural bristle brush.

Stand in your bathtub or shower so all of the falling dead skin doesn’t land on your super sweet bath mat.  Using long sweeping motions, begin brushing at your feet, moving upwards towards your heart.  All brush motions should go towards the heart area. No need to press hard because the lymph system is close to the surface of the skin.  After you have brushed your whole body, hop in the shower.

Dry brushing is best done naked… but this ain’t that kinda site

Fun Facts:

  • About 4 liters of lymph fluid is moved through the body and eliminated each day!
  • The body has between 501 and 700 lymph nodes- varying from person to person.
  • Where there are veins, there are lymphatic vessels.  The cardiovascular system and lymphatic system run parallel to each other .
  • The thymus is a super important part of the lymphatic system.  It is where the T-cells are generated which help to destroy the naughty cells that get flushed out.
  • The thymus is located behind the sternum, between the lungs and can be stimulated by tapping or softly thumping in that area 20-30 times.

Sooooo…. Have I peaked your interest in the lymph system?  Are you as fascinated as I am?

Are you ready to live that Lymph Life?

The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Just Because You Can

There’s this saying- ‘Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should’- which I usually reserve for the dickwads going 65 in the carpool lane.  Turns out, it’s another line I spout out that I should listen to myself.

I am finally recovered from my sinus surgery, which took much longer than anticipated.  I think I said it before, I just ended up being one of the few who did not tolerate it well.  While I should have been taking it easy and listening to my body, I was pushing myself to do my normal tasks and then some… because I could. I was exhausting myself during the day, unable to sleep at night, and overall- a real “peach” to be around.  {insert eye roll and face palm}

Once I started to take it easy, I started to feel better.  Go figure.  And now that the swelling has gone away, I am really happy that I did it. Being able to breathe through my nose is pretty exciting.  So is having the ability to hear out of BOTH ears.  This gal gives the final results two thumbs up.

In other medical news, I had a CT scan on Monday of my pelvis, abdomen, and chest to follow up on a hemangioma on my liver which was found about 6 months ago.  I didn’t tell anyone about the scan because, honestly, I didn’t want to think about it. And sometimes avoidance is my coping skill of choice. 🤷🏻‍♀️

The results came in yesterday afternoon and my scan showed no evidence of disease. And my liver only shows a small fatty spot.  HELLS..  TO.. THE.. YEAH!

My brain is now free to prepare for my final weekend of Be Well Yoga for Cancer Recovery Teacher Training, to finalize a couple of upcoming workshops I’m holding, and to hopefully get re-inspired with a project I had been working on pre-surgery.

What are some things you are working on?  Or would like to begin?  I feel a vision board party should be in order soon. Yeah? You in?

Fun fact: Growing up, my mom’s license plate was BizzyBZ 🐝