When I first had my mastectomy and reconstruction, I wasn’t sure I’d ever be comfortable being upside down again.
Let me back track for a second.
I love gymnastics. I’ve never been good at it, but I competed in high school and at the club level in college. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 28 years old, I didn’t immediately think about how it might impact my love of sports and flipping and being upside down (I was focused on beating the damn thing).
But after my double mastectomy I realized – what if I can never do a cartwheel again?!?!
Upper body strength and flexibility is critical for all tumbling, and it occured to me that I might never feel confident enough to do anything on my hands again. Or even if I did get strong enough, would it just feel… weird? My breast implants are under my pectoralis muscle, so any time I do any sort of push up or pull down, they MOVE (and not just a little).
As a Physical Therapist, I pride myself in motivating my patients to have big goals and work hard to reach them, but I admittedly doubted myself in my own ability to reach the goal of being upside down again.
It took some time, but about 3 months after my breast reconstruction, I was able to do a cartwheel again! It felt strange, but it didn’t hurt, and with practice it’s become more comfortable.
I tell you all this not to toot my own horn, but to show you that you CAN do big things after a mastectomy. It just takes a little work and determination.
I’m so excited to share that I’ve partnered with Paige More, a previvor, advocate for women’s health and empowerment, and co-founder of The Breasties, and Joslynn Corredor, a previvor, and strength and conditioning coach to develop a program designed to give you ideas for Prehab (preparing for surgery), Rehab (recovering from surgery), and Rebuild (getting back to exercise or sport).
Disclaimer: You should always consult with your medical team before attempting any of these exercises or any new exercise activity in general. Particularly if you just had surgery, make sure you are cleared by your medical team before trying any new activities or exercises. These exercises are designed as general advice/knowledge, not specific treatment. These are exercises that have worked for us (myself, Paige, and Joslynn), but every body is different, so make sure you listen to yours! What works for me may not work for you. A good Physical Therapist is a valuable tool if you need more specific guidance and treatment – you can find a PT in your area using the APTA or AAOMPT websites.