Therapy and Breast Cancer – What You Need To Know
Generation Care President and CEO, Holly Lookabaugh-Deur, recently wrote this article for the special breast cancer insert in the Grand Haven Tribune for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It is our privilege and honor to provide treatment options for breast cancer survivors from physical therapy and occupational therapy to lymphedema treatment and post-mastectomy care. Our team of therapists are here for you and will provide the very best care and recommendations for your recovery. Please get in touch with us to learn more and schedule an appointment. Be an advocate for your health and recovery.
It is truly a privilege to share important health information about post-cancer care treatment options for cancer survivors in our community. We have come so far in our deeper understanding of the different types of breast cancer and targeted treatment over the recent years. Truly, the biggest barriers to full recovery of function are the lack of awareness and connection to resources with those who need it most.
A diagnosis of cancer sets in motion a whirlwind of information, tests, consultations, and treatments in rapid progression. While the primary focus is eliminating the cancer, preserving function, prevention pain and limitations, and restoring full energy for living are equally important. Finding an oncology therapist – either physical or occupational – can really make the difference. The therapist is a vital part of your healthcare team, and she or he will address the following:
- Providing strategies for energy conservation and activity prescription during chemotherapy, radiation and /or post-surgical recovery
- Research shows that staying active and motivated, even 5 minutes at a time, can make a huge difference in response to treatment and the length of time to full recovery. An individualized plan is the most effective method of battling inactivity.
- Adding physical therapy to address asymmetrical muscles and joints, restoring full movement and helping tissues glides in layers – especially after surgery and radiation
- Again, research shows that early intervention with therapy can prevent pain, stiffness, weakness, postural faults, and fatigue. Specific manual therapy and therapeutic exercise techniques are incredibly helpful.
- Addressing the systemic issues of lymphedema BEFORE it becomes problematic.
- The lymphatic system filters our blood, and when even when all lymph nodes are intact, fighting cancer can overload the lymphatic system. When that happens, one or more areas of the body can enter into stage I lymphedema – often undetected – with tissue congestion and general heaviness the first reported symptoms. Specific breathing techniques to create a negative pressure in the abdomen, manual lymph drainage, and positioning programs can help prevent lymphedema. Therapists certified in this special type of care can also treat lymphedema with compression therapy and other manual strategies. Anyone who has been through breast cancer treatment should be aware of all of these techniques – even one educational session, to minimize the risk of this secondary conditions.
- Restrictive lymphatic “cording” – where lymphatic vessels become restrictive and tight – requires the specific treatment of a licensed therapist.
- Setting up a 24-hour approach to activity, hydration, nutrition, and sleep – from the total person perspective – leisure, work, family, self, community. Therapists can help restore balance to maximize your potential and restore function ASAP.
The tri-cities area is fortunate to have certified lymphedema physical therapists and oncology specialist available – no need to leave town for this important care. Be your own advocate and ask your physician to add this important component of your care to your healthcare team. It could mean the difference between a quick recovery or delayed progress with unnecessary suffering and loss of function.