Sonal Patel | Ep #24 |Osteopathy in Breast Cancer Recovery Aftercare



hi everyone today we have a special guest sono patal um she’s an osteopathic practitioner who specializes in muscu musculoskeletal pain who is based in london in the uk welcome to

delta dot if the podcast thank you so much for having me ladies um talking all things breast cancer and patient related to try and get the message out there to for everyone well welcome sonal um as you said this month is the breast cancer awareness month we are in in october and we’d like to speak to you about ways to approach breast cancer recovery so in the medical field it might be referred as survivorship care transition and so with your experience you know we’d like to know how osteopathy can play a role in this process of recovery and in particular um we read an article which was published in the national library of medicine and just braced yourself for this long article title which was called patient-centered support in the survivorship care transition and outcomes from the patient-owned survivorship care plan intervention which essentially concluded to say that having a clear survivorship post-care intervention plan is a really promising strategy in improving the experience for experience and healthcare outcomes for breast cancer survivors during the recovery phase post-treatment um and so i guess from our point of view we wanted to kind of pick your brain so now and see um how do your patients show up uh with to you uh for the aftercare and and what what symptoms do they come with and and you know as breast cancer survivors um could you shed some light on that sure so i’m fortunate enough to work in the private sector and i’m part of a team that works closely together so we have allopathic doctors and complimentary doctors and physiotherapists and we’re part of an mdt so that’s how it works collaboratively and collectively so i guess the initial diagnosis would come from the allopathic doctors who would and break the unfortunate news and deal with come up with a treatment plan as to what their protocol will be whether it’s surgery or radiotherapy or chemo or combination of all of the above um then whether that leads on to surgery or um whatever whatever it is and then once they’ve finished with that part of it the patients or the doctors will come together and we’ll come up with an idea and they’ll say that this patient might need this and this and how we can help but i think for anyone that’s been through a in operation and b some kind of trauma they should also be seeing an osteopath anyway because we tend to treat so much more than just it’s not massage it’s not just clicking the bones it’s not just acupuncture it’s everything and every patient that comes through the door has a unique story a unique journey that they’ve been through which we will then tackle together to help them help themselves i mean that’s kind of what integrative healthcare is is standing for right and going back to the statement that um this research was the conclusion which is the the experience of the recovery how how is an osteopath is able to to help kind of um you know go through that process or uncover those things because usually people not they don’t necessarily know what’s happening um as they you know come from this quite traumatic experience which is uh radiotherapy chemotherapy uh what’s your experience with that uh so now so i’m gonna touch that breast cancer affected me um a while ago and i guess been being an osteopath for 22 years that i can do that with the back of my hand it’s not an issue but having been through a trauma and having had that c word said to me um and then had going through my own journey i realized there was a gap there was a niche that needed to be filled so it’s one thing your doctor looking after you one thing your radiographer looking after you one thing the nurse is being amazing but there’s so much self-love there’s so much mindset that one as an individual has to do after any kind of trauma like that and i guess it’s probably a combination of my own healing journey that i then empathize a bit more with my patients and i can feel that void um and then i was so grateful to be asked to be part of the mdt team that i work in and the establishment where i am where we deal with women’s health and they can come they can talk they can cry they can give off all their emotions that they want to and hopefully we can tap in i can tap in to some part of that to help themselves to understand what their body’s been through um i think i think that’s a really like firstly thank you for sharing that uh with us so now and and on this platform with us i i’m i’m touched that you feel uh comfortable to to be vulnerable with us in that way um and i think that there’s a lot to say also for someone who’s a survivor and who’s an osteopath yourself and then you’re i guess holding the hand of someone who’s coming in with all these symptoms and experience and and while it’s not something that you know uh is nice to really bond over i guess but it’s also something that you can give to them and i guess hold their hand in the process while they are you know in their recovery uh process right um and i guess to touch on what you were saying um when they come in like post chemo or post radiotherapy or even surgery right like um can you talk a little bit about how those symptoms show up like because many of them probably come to you as a i guess maybe to check off a list uh you know maybe i see an osteopath or maybe i go see a psychologist or something to navigate the the the post trauma right off of a surgery um how how do they come to you and then what do they uncover in that process with you that is you know this the starting point of their journey so i think the main thing that would um come from it is obviously where they’ve had surgery where they’ve um had a part removed and they’ve got scars that they haven’t touched themselves let alone letting anyone else touch them and scars left untouched is going to cause its own trauma it’s going to become numb it’s going to become disassociated with the body so it’s about connecting that part back to you appreciating it um and i think that takes a big ask or a big um they have to trust the practitioner to do that i think that’s what i’m trying to say so if they can open up in how they’re feeling i think look without i have a lot of respect for my surgeons and for my doctors i think they’re great but they only have a snippet of it and i’ve always described um the orthopods that we work with on plastic surgeons they’re great they just take it out and they just put it back and it’s all nice and tidy but they forget that that’s connected to so much of the body as well so um yes they’ve taken out the bits that didn’t need to be there but we need to connect that back to to our bodies again so um what am i trying to say it’s like a phantom pain or a um more like connecting the dots back up again to make your feel whole again um and that includes lots of fascial work um we use tools like grass jar we use oils we use a combination of um acupuncture to stimulate your chi your energy the life that we have inside us so that it’s more of a holistic approach on getting people back to health so you would you would help people with the scars um what what are other aspects physically speaking um that an osteopath would do so that you touch upon some of like uh tcpm aspects so traditional chinese medicine with the chi with gua sha is that anything that an osteopath is is also equipped to to help with um in that in the physical aspect osteopathy is a treatment of the musculoskeletal condition so we treat the body muscles ligaments tendons tissues bones we treat with our hands we listen with our hands we propriocept um for even anyone that’s going through anything we can pick up on tightening in the muscles hypotonia all those kind of things so for anyone to come in whether they’ve had an operation or not we can just like for example the way you’re sitting we ask you to just pick up your posture or we’d um caught me there too i was like i’m always saying trying to keep your head nice over your shoulder shoulders over hips hips over knees knees over ankles nice straight lines because remember we weren’t designed to be on two we’re designed to be on four so anything we can try and do to help your spine your muscles tendons tissues we will help you we will put you back into alignment um if you like but um bear in mind that for the able-bodied person that they’ll they’ll bounce back we’ll put you back we’ll give you some help we’ll give some exercises and you’ll be fine i think when you’ve had an operation you’ve had something you have fascia fascia is like cling film that wraps around your organs that becomes quite tight so that’s the part where we can use tools to try and break those down those adhesions down to stop that pull just not that hurting to stop that pain which you can’t touch which you can’t feel so that’s where the chinese medicine comes in where the brush are with the acupuncture with the um cranial osteopathy as well where we work with the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds the brain the spinal cord and the sacrum that can all come out of kilter so that all needs to be rebalanced that’s what an osteopath would do traditionally um and then anyone coming with post-op we tap into that separately and and just to like what you were saying that you have to kind of like i guess touch with your hands and feel it right so what is the the impact like when you do that what are you actually moving in that in that process good question so it could be it depends on which area we’re working on but it could just be the vascular supply it could be the lymph supply it could be um muscles some spells ligaments we do dip deep friction work with our hands um very rarely do we use machinery well there are ultrasounds there’s some shock wave therapy there’s all kinds of machines that you can tap into but nine out of ten times it’s just a manipulation so we uh yes we manipulate the spine yes you might hear the clicking of the cracking uh more the chiropractic approach we use a whole host of of symptoms but a lot of that is just soft tissue massage but it could be the rhythm that we use as well so everything is amplified everything is um quantified depending on what we’re listening for with our hands right and does it hurt like just this is my own curiosity but is it because for people who have surgery right um like particularly the breast cancer survivors um they would have to like i guess you’d have to really massage that area um or not or sometimes it can be quite sensitive so we might just use light touch or if they’ve had lymph node auxiliary clearance we’d be really subtle as to how we’re going to approach it but there’s other ways around it we can work on the back we can work on the front we can work on um tapping we can work on so many other modes of modalities to try and get to where we need to unti until the patient feels comfortable that we can touch or they can touch or we can teach them how it’s it’s quite a beautiful way to see how like the recovery or the healing process not only are you um holding their hands but also helping them reconnect with that with their body and and some of those cars and creating new connections with those cars so those that this new body um and if we touched upon like kind of the psychological side that goes with with um because we we tapped into the physical side how you could physically kind of get the energy flowing um how how do you support that psychological side as they they just you know went through this traumatic experience so that depends on the patient if they want to open up they will um nine out of 10 times when we are touching it it can be emotional it could be come out as tears uh some people laugh some people swear whatever it is that that is the longest it’s out it’s better out than in holding all those emotions in in itself is detrimental to your health um we need to remember it is a holistic approach so it is mind body and soul but it involves all the organs so it’s muscles ligaments tendons heart tend uh stomach even what they’re eating what they’re drinking we will try and um explain to try and nourish the body whatever you’re putting in will come out so cleaning up your diet drinking more water drinking not too much water because that’s also a thing having some vitamins or supplements if you’ve had chemo you you’ve lost good cells and bad cells so you need to reintroduce you want your cells to turn over you want your body will regenerate by itself you’ve got your everything you need inside you um but then if you’re gonna put processed food and if you’re gonna have alcohol in i mean i’m not saying no to anything i think everything in balance and moderation is fine but if you’ve been through something like that you’re gonna have to switch your sleep is gonna be of utmost importance all these pillars of lifestyle movement is going to be medicine and you might not feel like you want to move but it might just be meditation moves or it might just be gentle yoga moves or it might just be a walk or something um i mean grounding in itself is therapy sound bowls um salt lamps uh hot baths um i can go on and on and on about all of this stuff and a lot of it is free it doesn’t cost a thing um so it’s not about tapping into the pharmaceutical industry or medication or prescription this is not a quick fix but i think the one thing i will say is the whole self-love thing you’ve got to appreciate your body and what it does for us um and then you’ve got to ask yourself why did you get sick in the first place yeah i think that that conversation or that topic could be very tricky and and hurtful at some point because it is hard not to go into some self-blame um and have you had this experience about like how i i mean when i got sick i was i would blame myself for so many reasons and yet actually there may not have been a fundamental reason i i wasn’t i don’t think i was doing anything that out of the and sometimes there isn’t sometimes it is a genetic predisposition and that’s that as well but that needs to be accepted and say okay fine i had it i had cancer cancer never had me right yeah that’s that’s very a very powerful statement to say to yourself to the world too it took me a while to say that and uh it took me a while to process it myself and i think that that’s the first time i said it out loud now but um i think the more you say it the more you realize that your body we can heal um and so many other external factors i mean your pillars of support your family your friends um there’s so so many things and yes you know i can’t i can’t explain this to the patient that’s going to come to the door they’ll probably walk straight back out again so it takes a while yeah get to know your patient for them to trust you for them to open up to you um and like i said not many people know my story and i’m it’s not about me it’s about them when they walk through the door so i will do everything in my power for them to open up when they want to um and it’s a bit of coaching i guess i guess it’s just about saying you know what you’ve got this and yeah you will be okay and just helping them along their journey everyone’s on a journey whether it’s cancer or not everyone’s going through something so why why stop there and i guess to come come to that point to come back to the point of you know them coming for treatment and coming for recurring treatments right um how long do they really kind of need to to come back for treatment with an osteopath you know post recovery um for them to kind of see that okay this is actually something that’s a useful tool and a practice that that that’s adding value to my my healing process that’s a really good question um and that varies from from person to person but i always say if after three sessions they haven’t felt a change then i might not be the right person for them so i will then refer them onto somewhere else or say try this or do this so we work collectively what i understand from what you’re seeing is that you know everyone’s heating journey is different and it can vary from one person to another they could come after three sessions and that’s it or did they need to see you on a recurring piece so some come back fortnightly sometimes uh once a month some i see a couple of times a year it just also depends on how much they’re doing for themselves so some some if they come back regularly they’re probably not doing enough for themselves they live a busy lifestyle they’ve got children and they just haven’t got the time so they need that quick reset right and it’s with you that they can like allow themselves to say okay this is my time and and they schedule it yeah exactly they come in we have that time we have our chats they offload they might cry it out then they go back again um and then some of them a lot of them have recently especially when we haven’t been able to see everyone as regularly as we’d like to they’ve taken on their self-care packages so i’ll put together a little plan for them and they’ll have their gouache our crystal or their oils or their candle or um because whatever you’re putting into your body um that was the other thing about having everything cleaning your whole kit out so it’s got to be paraben free or no gunk in it or just eating clean drinking clean but our skin is one of our biggest organs so what you’re putting on your body um so if i can help and advise about some brands that i endorse um i’m not paid for any of that but it’s just things that i’ve cleaned up with and so that i’m not putting in things that might be harming my body without realizing as well so i will that’s a another aspect of what i do as well sorry i wanted to kind of touch upon the your own uh reset as a practitioner because you’re saying it could be very draining because you are an empath right you you you’re redirecting some of the energy of these people uh you’re absorbing it um how do you reset good question um so um i used to be i used to go to the gym quite a lot and then swimming was my thing um so i find swimming really meditative and just i can zone off it’s somewhere where no one can get to me it’s just me my thoughts and the water which actually just felt great after my audio into something so therapeutic about being submerged and helping my lymph and that and sometimes you just don’t feel like doing a high energy workout when you’re the work that we do is quite physically enough but when the pool shut down in lockdown oh my gosh it was like what am i gonna do what do i do so i went back to my yoga which was great and grounded myself and breathing and lots of walks um i have to say i think i lost my joy the whole i think it sapped everyone um so that was hard to find that but we just had another three and i think um you’ll see with my smile and dressing up and stuff i feel like i’ve found my joy again so bollywood dancing that’s my thing or connecting with music is my thing so even on my instagram i’ll put a song on something just to make it a bit more peppy and just to pick someone and they may help it helps me so i think music is a big one if you’re asking i think it has the ability to just transport you to another place um so yeah probably a combination that am i hot baths anyone that knows me and my candles that’s great i mean i think i think that is the it’s like it sounds simple and small but actually those are the things that really make a huge impact right it’s like some people really like reading and to someone who doesn’t appreciate reading then they’d be like what do you mean like you’re going to sit down and relax and read like what but then that’s their joy so it’s it’s it it goes it goes a long way an inspirational podcast as well i think it’s been really nice to connect to people i was never an instagram person but it’s really nice to listen to see how other people have gone through and you realize so many people have been through concerns so many doctors have been through cancer and so many healthcare providers that do give so much they’re the ones that end up being sick so if we don’t look after ourselves and we don’t give that time to ourselves we can’t um help others i think um one one useful um top tip was when you know when you’re on a flight not that we’ve been on the flight for so long but but they also put your gas mask on first so that you’re okay so that you can help others i think that was a good way to think about it and i’ve never done that i’ve never put myself first i was always the one helping others and being the last one but recently i’ve tried to switch that around yeah and i think i think that’s uh i think we begin we’re gonna we’re gonna highlight the same point uh gudy and i but it’s exactly what like we’ve covered um in different conversations with different practitioners uh and in particular one of them who kind of uh highlighted to us that like you know this is the the sandwich generation that we’re talking about this is the audience we are speaking to right and they are the ones who are um always putting their mask on last and putting everyone else’s mask on first and usually that’s the the the mother or the sister of the family or the the woman in the family that’s kind of glueing everyone together i was um i was thinking like for for women uh and men who are going through you know um breast cancer what would be kind of your your tips for your three key takeaways for them to kind of embody as maybe they are at different point in their journey it could be you know either in the prevention uh part or it could be in the phase of you know getting those treatments and then the last bit which is you know recovery what would be potentially at each phase is like that key a key takeaway that you could give them prevention stage and what helped me was i became vegetarian and i’m not saying that everyone needs to do that but for me by taking away the meat the dairy the um mucus producing substance it helped me um clear up my diet and i helped me clear my head as well so whatever i was eating i was absorbing better but it also gave me more variety so i was having instead of having five quarters of fruit you’d have ten and if you’re having five portions of veg it’s another five but then you’re adding your spices and your seeds and your nuts and your legumes and all this good stuff that just helped post-op putting the oils back into your skin as well so so for me that was a good one um and what about during your cancer treatment what would be a tip you would give to people so during my cancer treatment i was just probably just too focused on what was going on um there’s another part of my story which uh it just wasn’t i didn’t have headspace to think about clearing up anything so um my story goes back nine years initially so i’ve come a long way from where that was and it can take that long to get through your journey but i think at the time it was just getting through every hurdle so it might have been the operation then the chemo then the radio so for that i just say hang on to your pillars of strength find your people um or journal or just try and do something for yourself um in that time it’s hard but there is help out there as well there’s macmillan there’s nurses there’s there is people there’s help um i’m sure we’ll probably add on a list of uh people that we can um so just speak to people i think it’s good to talk i think that’s probably the best advice i’d say if you’re going through it rather than holding it in and thinking you can do it yourself because that’s a hard one to do yeah for sure i think in the brain community as well people don’t talk about it it’s like oh cancer you either draw a line under it and people shelve it and then just think right i’m not dealing with this or you have your people and i think my work colleagues were probably my best people they’re the people that i saw on a day-to-day basis they were there for me i was they were on my shoulders they were everything so i think they end up being your people so you need your people any support system right um and and what would be and the last tip would be for kind of as you recover um what would be a tip that you would give for someone who’s recovering from breast cancer give yourself time be patient with yourself it’s not a race it’s a journey and you’re healing every day but also talk kind to yourself because even the mind listens to what you’re saying so just switch it right round um and i just think if right you know just be kind honestly just if you do one thing for someone else that comes back tenfold i’m a huge believer in karma as well so but every good that happens that comes back in a different way and a different blessing but that’s my spiritual spirit we’re all you know it’s it’s all holistic right and that’s always it’s it’s it’s all intertwined so it’s part of you um well i guess yeah so you basically to sum up i guess you’re saying like i guess review your nutrition uh sources and you know consider whether you want to be what type of diet you want to take and then also um talk and and speak to people um have conversations uh and find your tribe so these are the three um i guess takeaways for people who are in cancer recovery or just going through it um which are great tips i think uh once again sounds simple it’s like easy simple tips but then it’s maybe not as easy to to uh execute um and i guess with with that uh solo um we kind of we love to close off with a rapid fire run of questions um and i’ll take the first one and ask you this um and did you touch a bit on this earlier but yeah what is the worst uh health advice that you’ve ever received in your life um so i think when someone tells you that oh you’re going to be fine it’s going to be better it’s going to be fixed it will go away um cancer unfortunately won’t go away um i hope it does i think we can inject as much as we can to research and development and knowledge and educating people i hope for all those reasons we can reduce the amount of people that we lose to cancer um but i think yeah for anyone to say oh you’re gonna be fine i think cancer takes away so much of the person that you were and you do change you do evolve but hopefully you’ll become bigger and better and stronger um because of what you’ve been through yeah so that’s a very that’s a very bad type of way of addressing issues it’s like ah you’ll be fine just you know dust it off uh get over it and it’s very dismissive of what you’re experiencing so that’s unfortunately very much present in in in cultures such as like you know south asians it’s like toxic positivity right um i don’t know if it’s positivity but anyway yeah tough love yeah definitely um for the second question um if there was one habit we would we should all adapt what would it be um be kind to yourself and that can be in all forms of ways so you know give the body of movement and it requires every morning wake it up you brush your teeth every morning so give your body a little stretch a little bit of movement move your lymph no one talks about lymph and it’s so important and maybe we’ll do something on that um another time about lymph is your dumping ground so why do we get sick it’s because toxins build up you need to get that moving as osteopaths we do that but you can’t keep coming to see us you’ve got to help yourself so even with this long covered and coughs and bugs and stuff if you clear up everything inside you in theory it’s clean and you keep moving you keep your body moving and hopefully you live longer that i do uh i do uh resonate with that is like keep your kind of your mucus you don’t want to let it kind of store right so um so that’s a good one yeah and and the last one a bit more lighter one um if there was a soundtrack or a song that you could uh put to your life what would it be probably i am a survivor by destiny’s child um because of the whole women empowerment thing and the whole we’ve got this and uh i think we can rock it out with that so let’s just say for that yeah because you’re a survivor but again you’re just more than a survivor right yeah we’ve talked about it it’s a hard um label to to hold because it looks like that’s the only thing you are but it’s so much translating we’re constantly um evolving and you know you’ll have another hurdle and then another and then then what but i think the point is you can pick yourself up whatever it has now i think you’ve got the strength you’ve got the stamina you’ve got the no and what doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger there it’s another reference here yeah that’s the song oh that is a song yeah you’re right well thank you so much solo for your time and and your your insight and also your vulnerability today we really appreciate that special i didn’t realize how easy it was to talk to you guys so thank you so much for choosing me to be on your on your podcast and let’s just get the message out there so if in doubt just check it out as well yeah great cool thanks so now

Sonal Patel | Ep #24 |Osteopathy in Breast Cancer Recovery Aftercare

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