Take Time to Talk about Lymphoedema – Lymphoedema Awareness Month March 2017
Mar 16, 2017
In early 2014, Gail was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and had a mastectomy and lymph node removal. At that time, whilst Gail was made aware of the physical and emotional trauma of having her breast removed, little was spoken about the possibility of developing Lymphoedema.
Lymphoedema is the swelling of a limb due to the accumulation of excess lymphatic fluid in the tissues and for patients who have been diagnosed with cancer, radiotherapy and surgery to lymph nodes is a risk factor for Lymphoedema.
Gail says “I started feeling a dull heaviness in my chest and my stomach was bloated, I also had a pain in my arm, the same arm where my lymph nodes had been removed”. Gail’s Oncologist referred her to Dr Helen Mackie, Lymphoedema Rehabilitation Consultant at Mt Wilga. Gail received a comprehensive medical assessment, skin assessment and limb measurement.
Dr Mackie diagnosed Gail with Lymphoedema of her right arm and commenced a multidisciplinary Lymphoedema program. This included lymphatic massage, bandaging and low level laser therapy. Exercise based therapy including hydrotherapy and exercise physiology helped to assist with lymphatic flow.
Education was also important with emphasis on training Gail in self-massage, how to limit the risk of infection in the arm and how to conserve energy especially in periods of hot weather. Today Gail’s Lymphoedema is well managed, “I normally start my day with self-massage and then put on my tailor fitted compression garment. I also like to walk for about 30 minutes four times and week and I attend a community Yoga class. Lymphoedema is a lifelong condition so it is best to keep on top of it and self-manage the best you can”.
Last year Mt Wilga celebrated 25 years of Lymphoedema multidisciplinary services to the community and beyond.
For more information on Mt Wilga’s Lymphoedema program please call (02) 9847 5085.