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My birthday is in November

 so I thought i would write this post about myself  and the reason why I began this blog and business:


When doing a google search on the meaning of my name, I found ‚ÄúSandra‚ÄĚ means “defender of men”. ¬†That fits me. I get energy from helping others along their journey, especially when they are in times of stress. I alway have ‚Ķ even when I was little.
Being an occupational therapist has been a good fit for me. It is an obvious helping profession. But health care has gotten bogged down by regulations and mandates from insurance companies.   I felt compelled to remove myself from that burden. I had so many examples of someone’s recovery being dictated by an insurance company. 
I wanted a place for people to come when insurance coverage was not an option for them… for  whatever the reason. I took a risk and began Lymphatic Wellness Clinic. It has not been the experience I thought it would be. My doors  have not been flooded with people., phone ringing off the hook. But it has been the best self discovery journey of my life. It has made me dig deep inside myself, be ok with failure,  hold on loosely to my dreams. It has humbled me, scared me and inspired me. 
I am still at the beginning of this journey.  I believe there is a place for this kind of clinic in the wellness space today. A place that provides high quality treatment and education for on lymphatic heath and also a place that is a resource and support for therapists looking for something more or extra for their clients whether that be time, information or treatment. 




If you are in need of extra support for your lymphatic health journey, please reach out to me either by calling for an appointment if you live in the Chicagoland area or by joining my mailing list to stay updated. There are big things in the works in this upcoming year!




Lymphatic Health after Breast Cancer


       Melissa Etheridge                                 


 Lymphedema is  an unfortunate side effect of breast cancer. If your lymphatic system is struggling to do its job effectively, the result may be a swollen arm or hand. In the case of breast cancer it is most commonly because of removal or damage to lymph vessels or pathways from surgery or radiation.  Sometimes lymphedema can show up well after cancer is gone or years after lymph node removal.  It is so important to be aware of the signs of lymphedema and also some ways to keep your lymphatic system working its best.

The signs of lymphedema are: 

  A feeling of fullness or heaviness

  Tight feeling skin

  Less flexibility in a hand, wrist, foot or ankle 

  Clothes that feel tighter in one specific area

  A  ring, watch, bracelet or shoe that feel tighter



Caring for your Lymphatic System after breast cancer

  1. Watch for the signs of lymphedema listed above and seek help from a certified lymphedema therapist if you see these signs.
  2. Wear compression when flying: the lower atmospheric pressure can cause swelling
  3. Regularly clear your lymphatic pathways through dry brushing, manual lymphatic drainage and gentle exercise.
  4. Maintain a healthy weight and healthy lifestyle.

Learn More:  https://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/lymphedema/reduce_risk/do





The month before everyone wears pink (Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month)

September is ovarian cancer awareness month. I am mostly aware of this because my mom died of ovarian cancer when she was 67. I remember getting the life changing call in January.  I wanted to vomit. My questions came… what? When? How? Where?  I remember hoping it was breast cancer. But it came back as ovarian cancer and I then learned things about Ovarian cancer in 1997. It is difficult to detect. It is a silent killer, the symptoms are vague….. When she was diagnosed, she was at stage IV.
I taught myself the warning signs: bloated, feeling of fullness, frequent urination, fatigue. I KNEW the signs and 18 years later, I HAS¬† those signs. I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer 4 years ago. Here is what I realized, that list of symptoms was not what I felt. Yes, I felt tired a lot. I made a lot of trips to the bathroom, my back hurt, I felt full. ¬†I had felt all those feelings before and each one of them I could discount.¬† Don‚Äôt discount those symptoms. They are sneaky. If you are peeing all the time or it hurts when you poop or If you have to lay down during the day cause you are so tired or if your back has a slow dull ache that is there all the time‚Ķ dont think it is aging or stress. Don’t think you can just take some Tylenol and you will be ok. Be proactive. Get checked out.¬†


Unfortunately, a possible side effect of ovarian and other gynecological cancers is lower body lymphedema. Diagnostics, treatment and side effects can disrupt the normal route of lymphatic fluid from the legs and/or abdomen and result in  swelling of these areas that does not go away. Those with lymphedema benefit greatly from a therapy technique called complete decongestive therapy (CDT). CDT addresses skin care, manual lymphatic drainage, compression and exercise to  reduce swelling and minimize symptoms. If you think you  may have lymphedema, speak to your doctor and use this as a resource if your doctor is unfamiliar with lymphedema. 
As always, I am here to help. If you live in the Chicagoland area, please take advantage of my 1:1 treatment options. If you live outside of this area, you can still take advantage of my phone consultation or find a Certified Lymphedema Therapist in your area.

Swelling after Plastic Surgery

A blocked lymphatic system can result in swelling, pain, and discomfort.  Surgical procedures like a tummy tuck, breast augmentation or liposuction can disrupt the natural pathways of the lymphatic system causing it to be injured or blocked and not performing is functions as well as it should. In your research before your plastic surgery, you might have come across the terms lymphatic massage or manual lymphatic drainage. This can be a useful tool in your recovery to help  with swelling and achieving your best result.


The lymphatic system has several roles in the human body. One of these jobs is removing excess fluid and waste products found in and around tissues. The lymphatic system gathers unwanted material and moves it through  the body until it is ultimately is removed from the body. A good video on how the lymphatic system works is found on my website.

A certified lymphedema therapist uses a technique called manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) to move fluid in a specific path to reuduce swelling and subsequent pain. MLD is very gentle. There is no deep tissue work it should not hurt. A large portion of the work is done well away from the point of incision. The technique encourages the movement of fluid away from swollen areas, to healthy vessels who then eliminate it  from the body. 

Persistent swelling sometimes occurs after surgery.  This swelling may result in fibrotic tissue. Fibrotic tissue looks and feels thick and somewhat leathery.  It is important to reduce the chance of developing fibrotic tissue. In addition to assisting the movement of fluid through manual lymphatic drainage, a therapist can recommend various compression pieces to reduce the fibrotic tissue or stubborn swelling. 

Scar management is also important for successful results. An untreated scar can become thick and even painful just like unchecked swelling. Techniques such as myofascial release and cross friction massage can help to minimize the appearance of a scar.  More information can be found here.

I usually recommend 3-5 sessions of manual lymphatic drainage after a procedure as a starting place. During these sessions, you will be taught self manual lymphatic drainage and given recommendations for additional compression items and/or exercise so that your recovery will continue after your treatment. 

You have taken a big step in feeling like the best version of yourself. Life is about taking risks and in my opinion, you can never be your best self without taking them.

Schedule a Complimentary Phone Consult 

Want to read more about the research behind MLD and cosmetic procedures? Click here

New Resources Discovered!!

I am excited to share a few resources I have recently discovered…

These will be added to the resource page of my website: click here to see all the info.

  1. The Lymphedema Podcast…

Betty Westbrook is a CLT based in Texas who began a podcast all about lymphedema. Some of the topics include: What is Lymphedema?, Pregnancy and Lymphedema and Fashion for Lymphedema. She  is easy to listen to and explains information clearly. It  is an excellent resource for those who want to learn more about lymphedema but wish to listen to information rather than read it. To access podcasts, use the podcast app on  apple devices or an alternative podcast player such as Stitcher.


Fluid Running¬ģ ¬†

A few months ago, I started noticing Fluid Running popping up on some of the lymphatic instagram accounts I follow.  Coincidentally, I knew of fluid running from my local pool. It is a local business and Jennifer Conroyd, the founder lives in the same town as I  do. She was kind enough to connect with me since it seemed that we were reaching the same kind of people. I learned how Fluid Running can be an excellent exercise option for those with lymphedema It gives a great cardiovascular workout while also providing the compression so beneficial to a compromised lymphatic  system. It involves stationary running in a pool using a flotation belt. An app guides you through the workout. Check out the Fluid Running website for more details.

Swollen, Bloated and Puffy
by Kathleen Lisson CMT, CLT

Kathleen sent me this book about a year ago and I have finally gotten to reading it from cover to cover. It is an excellent resource for those who are looking for helpful tips ‚Äúfrom proven to CRAZY to reduce swelling and boost the lymphatic system‚ÄĚ ¬†The topics include: What to put on and in your face and body to reduce swelling; how to have a happy lymphatic system and how to improve your immune system. There are ideas to help with inflammation that you may not get from your traditional medical provider. Her book is available for purchase on amazon. To stay updated with author Kathleen Lisson, follow her on Facebook, and YouTube.


Remember to check out the resource page here for a list of more lymphatic system resources. And don’t forget to connect with me if you have any questions or comments.

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