Hi! (from Port Augusta, South Australia)

The timing of my receiving the June issue of T.C.A.A.’s Newsletter could not have been more perfect! Synchronicity at work!

On Saturday 30th June 2001 the city of Port Augusta had the pleasure of hosting a Lymphoedema Screening. This had been the second time only that a screening had been held in Australia, and in this particular case was promoted by the Lions Club of Port Augusta and the Flinders and Far North Community Health Service

What is Lymphoedema? It is a swelling of parts of the body or limbs caused by fluid collecting. Having a screening assessment helps you to know if you are at risk. It only takes a few minutes, is non-invasive, and you are able to talk with staff trained to help you with this problem.

Who should attend a Screening? Men and women who have had any of the following: breast cancer surgery, prostate surgery, varicose veins stripping, trauma to the lymph glands, bowel cancer surgery, cervix cancer surgery, radiotherapy treatment, any other surgery to the tummy area.

I have a lady in one of my Tai Chi classes who has had a double mastectomy, has Lymphoedema, and who was encouraged to do Tai Chi by her doctor, Professor Neil Piller. She talked with her Vodder Therapist, Gloria Denton, who also comes to another of my classes, to find out where she could join, and thus the contact was made. She is loving her Tai Chi, and equally as important, is feeling so much better since she has been doing it. And, on that Saturday, she was delighted to receive positive feedback from her second Screening – the results showed a reduction in her tissue fluids - her swelling had decreased. Professor Piller says it’s because of her Tai Chi.

Gloria, the Vodder Therapist, was one of the people who worked really hard to have the Lymphoedema Screening brought to Pt. Augusta. She approached me, as did a Lions Club representative, and asked if some of the Tai Chi folk could possibly do a demonstration in conjunction with the Screening, as it would really help them out and at the same time help to raise our profile. Naturally we were happy to do so; and so it was that on that Saturday 30th June, for fifty five minutes, shoppers paused to watch, and those attending the Lymphoedema Screening were able to gain an idea of what Tai Chi is like. Vehicles slowed as their occupants gazed in wonder whilst they tried to work out what it was that we were doing. It was great to see recognition dawn – the focused stare become a smile – no doubt greatly assisted by the Mars Bar advertisement (featuring Tai Chi being played by construction workers in their shorts and work boots - it’s currently being shown on our local TV channel and is enjoyed by many).

This brings me back to the synchronicity. I had roughed out a draft for a poster for the Screening Day, espousing the benefits of Tai Chi for Lymphoedema sufferers, but wasn’t completely happy with – it just didn’t gel for me. Then upon reading, particularly the last paragraph, of Paul’s article ‘From the President’ I knew just how to start. Since he had encouraged devoting, "time and energy in promoting and advancing the health aspect of Tai Chi," I did not think he would mind being quoted – I acknowledged my source! And so my lead- in statement was: Tai Chi has an incredible, almost magical ability to improve health. (Paul Lam)

The day was an unqualified success! One hundred and twenty people went through in the time that was available and many had to be turned away as time had run out. Apparently there have been only two Screenings in the world – the first was in Adelaide in February, the second here in Port Augusta on 30th June – and although I am not sure of the authenticity of the statement, I heard that the machine used is the only one in Australia. And Professor Piller told every patient that he saw that they needed to be doing Tai Chi! So Tai Chi is contributing to the health of people! And not just in Port Augusta – one lady who was part of the Health Assessment Team from Adelaide asked me for contact details for a Tai Chi group in Adelaide, whilst another who is a Vodder Therapist in Sydney, who had made inquiries but hadn’t actually gone along, has now been inspired to begin herself, and will certainly be recommending it to all of her clients. Vodder Therapists and the Lymphoedema Assessment Team here in South Australia are more than happy to endorse the value of Tai Chi as an acceptable type of exercise.

So what is it in particular about Tai Chi that makes it so beneficial? It enhances Lymphatic System functioning through deep or diaphragmatic breathing, through movements which alternatively load and relax the muscles, and through the strong turning of the waist and weight transfer. Take, for example, just one aspect, the Brush Knee movement – if one is leading with the left arm the lymph node in the left armpit area is being squeezed, as is the lymph node in the right groin area, simultaneously; but those nodes at the right armpit and left groin area not being squeezed – they are open, as opposed to being closed. Likewise, the opposite occurs when one leads with the right arm. In this way a pumping action increases lymph vessel pressure, lymph flow and lymph circulation. And abnormal accumulation of fluid is lessened!

I wanted to share this with you – it is just so exciting – and provides yet further evidence of the value and benefit of Tai Chi!

Julie Owen. Port Augusta Tai Chi and Chi Kung.


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