Rhode Island Monthly Breast Cancer Awareness : Page 2

SPECI A L A D V E RTISIN G SEC T I O N Treating the Whole Person The diagnosis has been made, the plethora of emotions that gushed forward has subsided, and the questions that came to mind in rapid succession have been answered. Not to men-tion, you have survived the two-week limbo period immediately following the diagnosis when you felt like you were suspended in time, unable to make any plans — even simple din-ner reservations, because you were unsure of the future. Now, the team of doctors has been assembled, and you know what cancer treat-ments you will receive and at what intervals you will receive them. Oh Swell. The causes of lymphedema and how to prevent it. it used to be that the only time a breast cancer survivor discussed lymphedema with her doctor was after she had developed it. But those days are over. According to Carrie Marcil, PT, LANA-CLT, more and more people are being referred for lymph-edema prevention education pre-and post-operatively. So,what is lymphedema? What causes it? And how can it be prevented? Marcil supplied the answers below: What is lypmphedema? • Lymphedema is an accumulation of lymphatic fl uid in the tissues of the body that causes swelling in the arms, legs or trunk. • Lymphedema can develop when lymphatic vessels are blocked, causing a “traffic jam” of fl uid on the lymphatic pathway and creating swelling in the body below the area of blockage. What causes lymphedema? • Removal of lymph nodes in the axilla (under the arm) related to breast cancer surgery • Radiation of the breast or axilla • Cellulites (infection) of the breast or arm Who is at risk for developing lymphedema? • All breast cancer survivors are at risk for lymphedema. • 6-40% of breast cancer patients will develop lymphedema. You are the captain of this team, and it is your responsibility to make sure that your team is reading the same playbook concerning your health. It is important to be proactive in your care. Knowledge is power, and the Internet is a great source of information — it is also a great source of misinformation. Remember, no ques-tion concerning your treatment or your health is stupid. Connect with people who have been where you are going; it is comforting and vali-dating. Try to remove the negative influences in your life, and remember that cancer treatments today are improved over the cancer treatments your mother-in-law’s sister’s best friend’s daugh-ter had ten years ago. And, those treatments include healing the mind, body, and spirit. Take Comfort, There is Relief Oncologists recognize that saving a patient from cancer takes more than surgery and phar-maceuticals, it requires healing the whole per-son, and integrative medicine complements the traditional methods of fighting cancer. Integrative medicine is not new; in fact some of the holistic treatments have been in existence for hundreds of years, and several Rhode Island area hospitals have implemented some level of integrative care into their oncology programs. The care varies depending on a patient’s needs, but the main goal of integrative medicine is to relieve the side effects caused by chemother-apy, and improve the quality of life for the 122 RHODE ISLAND MONTHLY l OCTOBER 2010 What you can do to help prevent lymphedema? • Keep the affected limb (the arm on the same side as the lymph node dissection) free from burns, rashes, insect bites. • Never use the affected limb for blood pressure tests or injections, including acupuncture. • Practice proper hygiene. • Inspect the affected limb daily. • Apply a compression arm sleeve during air travel. • Avoid vigorous repetitive movements, such as scrubbing, pushing and pulling. • Avoid heavy lifting. Never carry heavy handbags or bags with over-the-shoulder straps on your affected side. • Don’t wear tight jewelry or elastic bands around affected fi nger or arm. • Avoid extreme temperature changes when bathing or washing dishes. Protect your arm from the sun at all times. • Maintain ideal body weight through a low-sodium, high-fi ber diet, and avoid smoking and alcohol. • Recognizing the symptoms and early intervention is important. There is no way to determine who will develop lymphedema and who won’t. Marcil said, “lymphedema can occur at any time.” The best advice she can give to people who are at risk for lymphedema is, “you have to continue doing prevention techniques.” fyi ● ● Nationwide, 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. In Rhode Island, 1 in 6 women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Approximately 1,900 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in men in the United States this year. ● Over 75% of people diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history. ● Many health insurance companies pay a percentage for the cost of a wig for people going through chemotherapy. Also, health insurers may pay a percentage for the cost of four bras a year.

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