Even if you are an avid sauna visitor, if it turns out that you have breast cancer, it could have consequences for your favorite outing. Especially during the treatment period, you may be in great need of a sauna bath. Or after your treatment, for example, if you continue to live with one breast. Here you can read tips to help you enjoy the sauna as much as possible! Breast cancer: from the moment you are diagnosed, your world is turned upside down. Your agenda changes because treatments follow and replace your daily activities. Then you need relaxation and distraction. but to go to the sauna with or after breast cancer? Usually that is no problem. However, there are some points of attention: both physical and psychological. Read more about this here:
- Breastless or bald
- The first time
- women’s Day
- Organized visit to fellow sufferers
- Breast cancer organizations
- Do you want to, and is it possible? To go!
- The editor’s own experience
A visit to the sauna is a nice outing. Some people go for an evening, others make a complete program of it. It is also wonderfully relaxing, whether you go with someone or alone. Whether you just go for the sauna, or whether you also have a nice meal, or whether you also take the time to take a nap or read and hang out. Especially during the period when your life has changed so much due to diagnosis, examinations and results, you also need distraction . Many people feel that they are shutting out the everyday world when they go to the sauna. What more could you want when you’ve gotten sick?
If you are being treated with chemotherapy, it may be unwise to visit the sauna. Not so much for yourself, but for the other visitors. During and immediately after your treatment you excrete the substances from your chemo, the so-called cytostatics . You do this mainly when urinating, but also when sweating or sneezing. If other people come into contact with this excretion of these substances, it can be dangerous for them. Chemotherapy consists of administering substances that strongly inhibit cell division. The risk is that these substances could also have this effect on other visitors. In addition, coming into contact with one of these substances may mean that if this person later needs chemotherapy, chemo may be less effective.
However, there are different opinions among doctors, as shown by a summary of advice from various doctors at the Elkerliek Hospital in Helmond. Some are not negative about it, because they argue that excretion through sweat is minimal and not harmful or dangerous to others. However, the combination of chemo and sauna is generally not recommended. Another reason is that people become weaker during the treatments and therefore more susceptible to infections . No matter how clean a sauna is kept, there are always risks. You don’t want to have to postpone your next chemotherapy due to infection.
Another reason is that it is recommended to clean it extra thoroughly after using the toilet. As a visitor to the sauna it is difficult to comply with this. Finally, there is a risk of vomiting , and residues of the chemo may also be present in this discharge.
Actually self-evident: if wounds are still open, have not healed properly, or are very fresh, it is not wise to visit open baths. There is also a risk of infection here. It would be a shame if a healing wound or scar became infected and your healing was disrupted. A newly healed wound is still fragile and it would be painful and very annoying if someone accidentally bumped into you.
If your lymph nodes in your armpit have been removed due to local metastases, you are sensitive to edema. This is a fluid accumulation in, for example, the arm, because the lymph can no longer ensure correct fluid removal due to its absence. Even if you do not suffer from edema after your operation, it may still be unwise to undergo the heat of the sauna. The heat can still cause edema.
Breastless or bald
After breast-conserving surgery or amputation, it is somewhat or clearly visible that you have undergone an operation. People immediately know what is wrong with you: breast cancer. On a relaxing outing you don’t want to be stared at and may think “I can’t go to the sauna because everyone will be looking at me”. But it’s a shame to deprive yourself of your favorite outing for such a reason. In addition: have you ever had a good look around the sauna? There are not only slim, handsome people walking around, but people of all shapes and sizes. Fat, thin, big, short, handsome or ugly, you come across all kinds of things. Especially in the sauna, many people are somewhat introverted or at most focused on their company, and there is little looking around.
The first time
For the very first time since your breast cancer, your visit to the sauna can be stressful. You want to relax, but you may also be wary of looking at your missing or different-looking chest, or your bald head. Think of it as a small investment: going into the sauna now is a bit awkward, which means that every sauna visit after this will be a little easier. After your first visit, you can pat yourself on the back: you did a great job! Consider it a victory. The people who already see it in you will admire you for your courage. Maybe you can remember seeing someone without a chest or bald in the sauna? Then you probably didn’t think that was crazy, but brave!
Getting a massage makes the sauna even better. Relax and have your muscles massaged smoothly after all the stress of being ill. The masseur has also dealt with all kinds of people and is not surprised by an imperfection. When you arrive, tell us what is going on and explain what is and is not possible. It is often nice to place an extra towel rolled up under the affected breast as a buffer. The masseur will fully understand this. You also make it easier for him/her by broaching the subject yourself.
Most saunas have certain days reserved for women only. On those days it may be more pleasant for you to visit the sauna, if you feel that ‘women among themselves’ makes you feel safer. On the other hand, you may feel more ‘normal’ going on a mixed day. You have already felt strange enough during your treatment period. This is different for everyone. Think about it in advance and discuss it with a good friend. If you go to the sauna with someone else, explain to him/her in advance what is going on and what you are unsure about. It is also nice for the other person to know in advance how you are doing and they can assist you during the sauna if necessary.
Organized visit to fellow sufferers
Some saunas even organize special fellow sufferers’ days. In this way they cater to women with breast cancer. In addition, they do not want to lose you as a customer. Search the internet and you will probably come across them.
Breast cancer organizations
Various organizations are committed to helping women with breast cancer; Amazons Foundation , Breast Cancer Association Netherlands , etc. Joint sauna visits are also regularly organized within these organizations. If you enjoy meeting fellow sufferers, this can be a great way to dive into the deep together.
Do you want to, and is it possible? To go!
Do you feel like going to the sauna, despite uncertainty? First check whether there are any objections. If you have any doubts about your physical situation, consult your doctor/internist/nurse. If you have any concerns about your appearance, please call the sauna.
The editor’s own experience
Finally, a personal experience. I also underwent treatment for breast cancer a few years ago. And I was also an avid sauna visitor. For me too, the first time going to the sauna with a breast was nice, but also uncomfortable. I had decided: I’ll try it, if I hate it, then I’ll never have to do it again. Afterwards I was so happy that I had done it anyway. Later I also met the women with whom I had gone through the rehabilitation period: I with one breast less, another with a breast-conserving operation, a third with prosthetic breasts without nipples. The four of us were giggly in the sauna. We even asked other visitors if they had noticed anything about our group. Surprised looks: “No, what then?”. For me it is proof that being looked at in the sauna is not that bad. I wish you success and fun with your sauna visit!
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