Sunday, April 30, 2017

Book Review: Taking Charge of Cancer by Dr. David Palma

Book Review: Taking Charge of Cancer by Dr. David Palma

Taking Charge of Cancer Dr. David Palma

As an oncology massage therapist, I want to make sure my clients have all the answers they need and feel like they are a partner in their medical care, not a disease to be treated. I recently read an advance copy of a book that makes the process of being an informed patient easier.  

In this easy to read book, radiation oncologist Dr. David Palma gives advice on how patients with a cancer diagnosis can ensure they are getting the quality medical care they deserve - care that maximizes both survival and quality of life. This book provides guidance on what questions to ask during your initial consultation with a surgeon, medical oncologist or radiation oncologist, detailed step by step information on how to read your medical records, checklists to make sure you understand the most important aspects of treatment, proven tips on how to choose the best surgeon and lists of questions to ask your doctor about your surgery, radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

Taking Charge of Cancer confirms several things I had been suspicious of with respect to cancer diagnosis and treatment. In the book’s forward, Dr. Anthony Zietman puts it plainly when he states, “physicians prefer to do what they do.” This may mean that a surgeon may recommend surgery and physicians may recommend only treatments that are well covered by health insurance. His wisdom for patients with a cancer diagnosis? “Ask questions, get different opinions, read wisely, and then, after discussion with family and friends, make thoughtful, informed decisions.”

Taking Charge of Cancer can be a valuable resource if you are a patient who wants to take charge of your medical care or a caregiver or trusted friend who will accompany the patient to doctor visits and offer a kind ear to listen and comfort, particularly if your loved one will receive palliative care.

I received an advanced copy of Taking Charge of Cancer for review through NetGalley. It will be released July 1, 2017 an is available to preorder at Amazon: Taking Charge of Cancer: What You Need to Know to Get the Best Treatment

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

How to stop leg, knee and arm swelling in San Diego while on vacation

Swelling can stop a fun San Diego vacation 

in it's tracks! 

by Kathleen Lisson, CLT, CMT

When I am on vacation, I always end up trying to jam in a week's worth of activities into only a few days. San Diego in particular is a hard city to vacation in - how can we visit Balboa Park AND the Beach AND learn how to stand up paddleboard AND ride bicycles around the bay AND swim in the ocean AND watch the surfers AND try out fish tacos? If there are kids on the trip, it might extend into Legoland and Disneyland, which means time in a car and walking around all day in the park. 

The result: just tired feet if we're lucky, but more often - swollen feet, legs and knees. 

On vacation in San Diego? If you have an old injury or a mild case of lymphedema after cancer surgery you may find that the increased lifting, walking and cabin pressurization that comes along with a vacation can cause swelling in the arms and legs. A swollen leg or knee can mean skipping spending time with family members or not participating in many of the touristy things that make vacation so memorable. 

I'm Kathleen Lisson, a Board Certified massage therapist practicing in San Diego. I specialize in a type of massage called Manual Lymphatic Drainage, which reduces swelling from lymphedema or after surgery or injury. 

The solution may be a relaxing treatment from a massage therapist skilled in Manual Lymphatic Drainage. I have provided massage to clients with lymphedema and orthopedic injuries and have seen the positive difference it makes in their bodies, especially after a few days of standing, walking and riding bikes to explore our beautiful city. 

It's best to search for a person who has experience in using Manual Lymphatic Drainage, and ideally choosing a Certified Lymphedema Therapist (CLT) if you have or are at risk for lymphedema. 

Please visit my website for more information and to book an appointment (I make housecalls!): http://www/

About Kathleen Lisson (CAMTC #70128)
As a Board Certified massage therapist with advanced training in Manual Lymphatic Drainage, I help women and men in the San Diego area reduce the tight, full, heavy feeling that comes with swelling after facelifts, tummy tucks, liposuction and other plastic surgery operations. I make housecalls! To schedule a treatment, please visit

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Feeling Anxious Before Surgery? Learn from my mistakes!

How to Reduce Anxiety Before Surgery in San Diego

By Kathleen Lisson, CMT, CLT
(CAMTC #70128)
Anxiety Before Surgery
"Basal Cell Carcinoma" 

Those three words spoken by my dermatologist as she shined a bright light and peered at my right cheek felt like loose sand being stolen from under my feet by an undertow. 

"I'll take a biopsy to make sure"

Carcinoma, I thought dully. Carcinoma. Both my parent's had died from cancer, so I knew what the word meant. 

I had skin cancer. 

The next ten minutes: scraping of the pimple that had never healed on my cheek, then an explanation of how I would book surgery that went over my head. I asked if it would be written on a sheet of paper - "I'm just not thinking clearly right now." My Derm smiled, "Yes." 

I didn't know that that sheet was just the beginning of the paper trail that cancer created. Even a simple skin cancer, the 'no big deal,' the 'we get hundreds of cases a month' it's just surgery type of cancer. 

It was decided - I would get an outpatient procedure, booked in the late afternoon, an operation called Mohs surgery. No chemotherapy, no radiation. 

One day I would have cancer, the next I wouldn't. 

Maybe I would have been fine, maybe I would have been as relaxed as other people who take a small operation like this one in stride. Maybe.

But I made one big mistake - I Googled Mohs Surgery. 
Then I waited until it was late at night, after my concerned, loving husband had gone to sleep and I searched on Youtube for "Mohs surgery cheek."

That's when the anxiety started, an empty levitating heaviness in the pit of my stomach and pressing tightness in my heart. 

All I could think of was being permanently disfigured. 

Instead of imagining a healthy recovery, I was mentally preparing myself for the worst - and giving myself a huge case of anxiety.

Post-op visit to my dermatologist after skin cancer surgery

Hello, my name is Kathleen Lisson and I am a Meditation Teacher and Board Certified Massage Therapist in San Diego, CA. I specialize in helping people prepare for and recover from plastic, orthopedic and reconstructive surgery. 

Why do I have such a passion for helping others get back to living their life after surgery? I have had both really good operations and much more traumatic surgery experiences, and I spent time last year thinking deeply about what happened differently in each situation to make my experience so different. 

I had reconstructive surgery almost a decade ago after a skiing accident and felt completely at ease because I intuitively had positive thoughts about my recovery. In contrast, the 2016 surgery to remove skin cancer from my face didn't go so well because I spent time looking at worst-case scenario Youtube videos instead of thinking positively. 

A few weeks after the Mohs surgery in San Diego

Whenever I have a traumatic experience, I try to find a way to use it in a positive way to help others. After my surgery and recovery were underway, I searched for the answers I didn't find before my operation - how can people facing surgery reduce anxiety and keep their mind focused on healing?

I was very fortunate to find Peggy Huddleston's Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster with Relaxation and Quick Start CD: A Guide of Mind-Body Techniques earlier this year. Huddleston's method of focusing on positive imagery before surgery has resulted in patients reducing their anxiety levels before surgery and using less pain medication and recovering faster after their operation. The power of focusing on personalized positive imagery has been documented in research studies at the Lahey Clinic (Tufts University Medical School), New England Baptist Hospital (Tufts University Medical School) and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (Harvard Medical School). 

After reading her book, I jumped at the chance to personally train with Huddleston and I now offer a workshop in San Diego based on the methods and research in Peggy Huddleston's Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster with Relaxation and Quick Start CD: A Guide of Mind-Body Techniques. This one hour program provides San Diegans facing surgery with the many of the tools we need to use personalized positive imagery to help reduce anxiety before an operation. 

I know how anxiety-provoking surgery can be. Invest an hour of your time to learn how to use personalized positive imagery, family and friends and your surgical team to improve your recovery from plastic, orthopedic or reconstructive surgery in San Diego.  

To find a list of upcoming workshops, visit

Buy the book here: Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster with Relaxation and Quick Start CD: A Guide of Mind-Body Techniques

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Chair Massage for Charity in Rancho Penasquitos!

Rancho Penasquitos Massage Therapist

Offers Free Chair Massage in Exchange for

Donations to San Diego Nonprofits

Kathleen Lisson, a Board Certified Massage Therapist with a mobile massage practice based in Rancho Penasquitos, raised funds for local charities by giving complementary chair massages at the Rancho Penasquitos Farmers’ Market.

Lisson will be at the Rancho Penasquitos Farmers Market every Saturday from 9 am - 1 pm, and a different San Diego charity will be featured each week.

Past donations include $65 to the Rancho Family YMCA.

Her business, Solace Massage and Mindfulness, provides lymphatic massage for clients after plastic, orthopedic and reconstructive surgery. For more information, contact Kathleen Lisson at

Packing for Plastic Surgery Overseas

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