I think I’ve mentioned before that I feel very fortunate that I have excellent care from an amazing team of doctors. I didn’t request a specific doctor when this all began – and left it up to my primary care doctor at Mecklenburg Medical to do what they thought best. Since speed was important my doctor chose the earlier appointment that I could get with one of Levine Cancer Institute’s oncology surgeons. So who I got was pretty much luck – or maybe fate.
It couldn’t have turned out better. The team of 4 that surrounds me has my confidence, admiration and trust. They have similar styles and attitudes about how treatment should take place. They are each proactive in their preferences for treatment – which is another lucky thing for me.
And that attitude has made me lucky in other ways. One is the Lymphedema therapy that I’ve been getting.
My oncology surgeon sent me as soon as I was able after surgery. She doesn’t believe in waiting for Lymphedema to show up. She believes in treating the potentially effected area ahead of any Lymphedema symptoms so that it doesn’t happen for their patients.
I didn’t know how important this would be and how fortunate I would be once again in my luck of the draw in who I would get for a therapist.
I began therapy after recovering from surgery and as I was starting chemo – back at the end of August-beginning of September. I had most of my appointments with a therapist that I immediately hit it off with. She was very happy that I was coming in during chemo noting that most of the oncology surgeons aren’t so proactive and either skip the notion of Lymphedema therapy or wait to see if symptoms show up.
My therapist noted to me that they’ve proved that therapy ahead of symptoms can keep Lymphedema from ever showing up. With that knowledge, why wouldn’t you do it?
That’s a different debate. I’m simply thankful that my surgeon believes in early, proactive therapy.
It has been a godsend. After surgery, her skills my hard work got me back to full capacity – having 100% mobility back in my left arm. It – of course – doesn’t feel the same. It never will. And I will always need to wear a Lymphedema sleeve when doing strenuous activities with my left arm to aide the ebb and flow of fluids in that arm.
Enter my most recent surgery. While the lymph nodes were only effected on my left side, the reconstructive surgery was on both sides and has had some effect on my arm movements and reach.
Luckily, my therapist realized that this was going to unfold and planned more therapy after putting it on hold after early December.
In fact, she also knows that radiation increases the potential for Lymphedema to show up quite sharply so my schedule for therapy will continue during radiation (unless I become so sore from the treatment that I cannot do the therapy…)
I had my first therapy session yesterday. Ouch. Sometimes its almost like a deep tissue massage leaving me a little nauseous and quite sore. I awoke to some pretty intense soreness this morning – but I’m glad to feel it because I know how much this will help me.
Radiation tightens tissue and skin. And so before I begin radiation on March 30, my therapist and I will be working on getting my left arm as flexible and functional as possible. She says I don’t have that far too go. And – knowing me and my activeness and trainer relationship – that I will progress just fine and enter radiation in great shape.
It’s painful but it’s a good pain – a necessary pain – that I know is a good thing.
So once again, the professionals around me are taking amazing care of me. They are caring, compassionate, incredibly smart, confident and patient. It’s like working with breast cancer patients is a calling for them. They are so committed and concerned with providing the best possible care for each patient.
Like I said. I’m lucky. I’m in good hands and I know it.