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Cryotherapy for Recovery

by Lydia McMillanSurvivor, Breast CancerSeptember 21, 2020View more posts from Lydia McMillan

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on April 16, 2019. I knew the only way I would do chemotherapy is if my sweet husband asked me to. I wanted to take a holistic approach to healing my cancer. However, after seeing several doctors who advised me to not take that path, my husband asked me to do the chemo. So, I did the chemo. It was obviously the right choice for me as my tumor had a complete response. After completing 12 rounds of chemo and 35 radiation treatments, my journey has shifted from survival, to recovery.

If you’ve been through chemo, you’re familiar with the long-lasting symptoms. While I credit my life to chemotherapy, it was not fun. It left me with extreme fatigue, joint pain, muscle weakness, neuropathy, and brain fog just to name a few of my lingering symptoms. My oncologist told me I could be feeling these effects of chemo for years. YEARS! I’m not okay with this. Since I couldn’t go the holistic route to treat the cancer, I’m on a mission to find natural, holistic ways to fuel my recovery.

Do you ever have one of those moments where you feel like the heavens opened up and God hand delivered you a solution to your problem? About 2 weeks after finishing up cancer treatments I went to a crossfit workout. I felt so weak and tired and just down on myself. I felt like I would never get my strength back. Enter Tryan Stutes.

Tryan is about 6’5, long hair, fit. Just an all around cool and happy guy. So, he comes up to me after this workout (that totally crushed a piece of my soul) to tell me about his new business adventure. He tells me he’s opening up a cryotherapy and recovery lounge.

“I’ve heard of this!” I practically shouted. “That’s where you step into that chamber thingy and it gets extremely cold, right? Google said it’s really good for chemo recovery, but I haven’t found anywhere that offers it around here.”

He proceeded to tell me about the benefits and how it would be perfect for me because where I am at in my journey. After getting the okay from my oncologist, I stepped into the cryo sauna for the first time. Not gonna lie, after stepping in and closing the door, my first thought was: What did I get myself into! It was cold. I mean COOOOOLLLLDDD!

I anticipated the next minute and a half to be the longest of my life, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be and time passed quickly. Once I stepped out of the sauna, I immediately felt these benefits Tryan was speaking of. I felt this wonderful tingle across my body, I had an incredible amount of energy, my knee that had been hurting for the past week suddenly felt fine. And although I did feel slightly cold all day, this was the first day since chemo began that I made it through the day without a nap!

So why does this cold therapy work so well for someone like me? Let’s look at the science behind cryotherapy. The cold chamber emits vapors at extremely low temperatures ranging from -160°F to -220°F, usually done in intervals of 2 to 4 minutes. The shock in temperature causes an activation of the autonomic nervous system. The blood vessels are constricted and reduce blood flow to areas of inflammation. Once you step out of the chamber, the vessels expand, and your body naturally releases anti-inflammatory proteins in the blood. Basically, it sends all this supercharged, oxygenated blood throughout the body which causes an improved state of healing or recovery.  Soft tissue healing is accelerated, and most people report reduced pain immediately after using a cryosauna.

A big part of cancer recovery is mental. Unfortunately, one of the many side effects of finishing treatment is the anxiety of the cancer coming back and depression developing after a long battle. Especially in breast cancer. 80% of women going through treatments for breast cancer gain weight and not to mention the damaging mental effects of losing your breasts. Yep, cryotherapy helps with this too. In one study at Cambridge University, 23 adults suffering from depression received whole body cryotherapy sessions. The treatments reduced all symptoms of depression, except for day-night mood fluctuations, in all 23 individuals!

While whole body cryotherapy shouldn’t be used as a replacement to exercise, it can amplify your fitness results. Cryotherapy can burn up to 800 calories per session. That’s more than an entire hour of high-impact aerobics! Cryotherapy triggers a cellular reaction in the mitochondria, turning your inactive cells into active ones, requiring them to burn calories by turning your bad fat (white adipose tissue) into good fat (brown adipose tissue). Since good fats are easier to burn, the more cryotherapy sessions you do will result in more efficient workouts with a greater caloric burn. I have personally noticed a reduction in cellulite!

Overall, this has had a huge impact on my recovery. After being pumped full of all kinds of medications for a solid year, it feels nice to be able to treat my symptoms holistically. Of course, I still have bad days, but with the use of the cryosauna, those days are few and far between.

If you are recovering from chemotherapy, I highly recommend looking into whole body cryotherapy. It’s worth every penny, but make sure you speak with your medical provider first! If you are in the DFW area, check out Tryan’s place in Bartonville: Ucryo and Recovery!

Lydia doing Cryo

All of the posts written for Elephants and Tea are contributed by patients, survivors, caregivers and loved ones dealing with cancer.  If you have a story or experience you would like to share with the cancer community we would love to hear from you!  Please submit your idea at

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