Cancer Sucks. Testimonials From Women Who Have Utilized TOPS PT! Week 4

Week 4: Testimonials
Physical Therapy continues to be a questionable treatment option for women who are post-mastectomy, augmentation, or with large breasts. It is highly misunderstood where physical therapists can enhance the recovery process and help to minimize pain. In the past, it was believed that PT was too aggressive for this type of procedure; however, at TOPS, we have shown multiple times that we understand the recovery process and how to be a catalyst for faster, safer recovery.

Here are some of the testimonials of women who have utilized our physical therapy techniques, and their personal road to recovery:

Undergoing any major surgery usually requires some sort of physical therapy to regain normal life. Normal life for some may not include exercise and adventures but for many of us it does! As a competitive swimmer, lover of bikram yoga and pharmacist, I need my brain and body to be in pristine condition for best performance. My personal goals and patient’s lives depend upon it. Being genetically predisposed to having a 90% chance of breast cancer and 50% chance of ovarian cancer, I knew the best choice for me was to prevent my breast cancer by having a double mastectomy. This came with reconstruction and 4-6 weeks of inactivity besides walking. In order to restore normal life, I sought the expertise of Amy and Chad at TOPS. Since the new implants pull on your muscle you want to prevent forward rotation and injury to the shoulder, or extra weight and pressure on the spine. Having a strong core and the manual techniques from TOPS helped me regain my pull-ups and all around ability as a swimmer within 6 months of surgery. I would not be where I am today without them. The staff and experience are TOP notch!

-Lindsey U.

Over a year ago, I was diagnosed with a cancerous nodule in my breast. Rather than worrying, I decided to have a double mastectomy, which I thought was going to be an easier process than I discovered it was. Both physically and emotionally. I sought treatment from Amy after my removal surgery, while I was going through my emotional rollercoaster. Amy helped me regain the ability to reach the top shelves in my cabinet and do my hair. After many tearful PT appointments, she supported my decision for a replacement, which I was not initially going to get. This was a longer process than I had imagined, but Amy helped me through it all. My breast tissue was uneven, so my implants were uneven. As you could imagine, this took again, more emotional toll than I was prepared for. Amy helped me regain my shoulder strength and mobility, not to mention my confidence. I am forever indebted to Amy and will always have a place in my heart for her.

-Dawn B.

Many years ago, I had a boob job that I have now learned is more than I should have done. I started getting really bad headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain, and pain into my arms. I thought it was carpal tunnel and migraines, and many doctors told me the same. I also was told I needed surgery on my neck. My daughter got treatment from Amy and Chad, so I decided to see if they could help me. I never thought it could be from the weight of my boobs, but it seems to be the case. Amy and Chad have worked on my back and neck to help take away that pain. They stretched my chest and sometimes used the awful blue scrapers on me too. In the end, it really helped with my pain. I now know that if I decide to do surgery, I will only get my boobs smaller and not mess with my neck or spine like other doctors told me to do. I appreciate their honesty and willingness to go against what I believed to be my problem.  

-Karen J.

Cancer Sucks. Recovery Doesn’t Have To. Let TOPS Help! Week 1

October is most importantly, Breast Cancer Awareness and Prevention Month. It also happens to be National Physical Therapy Month. Therefore, we felt it was appropriate to integrate the two and make a blog series based on how the two can integrate. It may seem a bit personal and private, yet it has extreme relevance on females dealing with shoulder pain, upper and lower back pain. This series will focus on surgical interventions of breast tissue and how physical therapy can help alleviate some of the associated pain symptoms.


Cancer is a scary topic and it brings with it a lot of uncertainty. Breast cancer occurs as a result of gene mutations and uncontrolled cell growth that can invade surrounding tissue in the chest wall including lymph nodes, areolar ducts, muscles that lay beneath the breast, as well as the ribs. If the cancer metastasizes (travels) too much or growth is out of control, then invasive surgery (Mastectomy) may be required to remove the cancerous cells as well as the surrounding tissue: lymph nodes and ducts and possibly musculature in some extreme cases.

Mastectomy presents challenges for any patient undergoing recovery because the tissue structure of the shoulder and breast region has been surgically altered, not only requiring healing of the surgical site, but also limitations of ROM dependent on the type of mastectomy and phase of healing. The most common and well researched mastectomy procedures are quite invasive.

Least to most invasive:

  • Total (Simple) – removal of all breast tissue, including: nipple, areola, & most skin
  • Modified Radical – all tissue removed in a Total (simple), along with lining of some chest muscles, lymph nodes in the upper arms, neck, and armpit.
  • Radical – all tissue removed in a Modified Radical mastectomy along with all lymph nodes and all chest muscles. (This type was most common for many years but is not rarely used unless the metastasis of cancer has spread through chest muscles).

There are some newer procedures that are less invasive and more sparing than even the Total mastectomy.

  • Skin-sparing & Nipple-sparing: these procedures allow for keeping as much superficial skin while removing the underlying pathologic tissue.

Although these methods may be riskier and not as researched, it allows for the patient to keep more of their body intact and keep their human dignity, which is important for any medical procedure.

Post-Mastectomy surgery, patients can suffer from lymphedema, swelling, phantom pain, range of motion, and strength deficits that physical therapy is very effective at improving.

What about Physical Therapy?? Can it help?? My doctor said I didn’t need to go, so should I??

These are questions we are asked frequently after a mastectomy. It is not well understood what a PT can do, if anything at all. However, from experience, as the testimonials will show in a few weeks, it absolutely can help.

PT can help post-mastectomy surgery by helping to minimize scar tissue build up. The surgical procedure is intimately related to the muscles of the chest and shoulder, which will get very tight, especially when someone is sitting with their shoulders forward. PT will help to lengthen those tissues and minimize the pulling feeling. It will help with shoulder pain, or minimizing the looming shoulder pain that almost always occurs. PT will also help to minimize back pain that starts since the individual is usually rounded forward, in a slouched posture, much worse than normal.

Furthermore, post-mastectomy, many women suffer from lymphedema issues in their hands and arms. There are specialists who are trained to help minimize this swelling and pain associated with swelling. There are many people and services here for your needs, please allow us to help you find who you are in need of!

In the upcoming weeks, we will discuss the anatomy of reconstructive surgery or enhancement surgery, and the general PT effects with that. Then, we will follow up with a much more intensive PT treatment blog. Followed by testimonials and personal experiences.

If you have any input or questions, please let us know. We are always here to help!

Cancer Sucks. Recovery Doesn’t Have To…Let Us Help!


  1. Mastectomy