Lymphoedema treatment at Hope Centre
One of the many support services we offer in HOPE is a Lymphoedema treatment service.
People who have had cancer, surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy may be at risk of developing this condition, which is a chronic swelling that can affect any part of the body. Secondary lymphoedema can be caused by many cancers and their treatments.
Many people say that this condition has a huge impact on their health, body image and self- esteem and can cause emotional as well as physical distress.
Lymphoedema can be managed under the professional guidance of a Lymphoedema Nurse/Physiotherapist or Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) Therapist, to reduce the risk of developing Cellulitis, and to help deal with the social/ psychological impact which can lead to issues around selfesteem, difficulties at work, sick leave, finding clothes and shoes that fit.
The impact of well managed lymphoedema is widespread. Physically it can increase comfort by reducing the volume/ size of an area. This reduction means that a limb is lighter and easier to move.
It can enable a person to wear the clothing that they want to and in time can enable people to return to activities they couldn’t previously manage or it may simply allow people to manage day to day tasks more easily. This supported self- management, can be beneficial in giving clients a sense of regaining control over their condition, which in turn can have a very positive psychological impact. Marie’s story below highlights the positive outcomes of the treatment.
In the HOPE centre, we see many clients with Lymphoedema who have been referred to us by their GP or Consultant. Initially we have a consultation which includes measurements and moisture meter readings, followed by specialised treatment in regular appointments. Manual lymph drainage is a gentle but firm massage which helps to move lymph on to a functional area and can have a calming effect on the nervous system. We also provide information on the importance of diet and exercise, instruction on self- Lymphatic drainage, information on bandaging and compression garments.
Compression garments, fitted by an expert, are essential in the treatment of Lymphoedema, as they apply gradient pressure to the affected area to help reduce swelling and to prevent the swelling from worsening. The fitting service is free to everyone who has had a cancer diagnosis and is at risk of developing the condition*.
Our Lymphoedema Support group meets every two - three months at the Centre, for anyone who is at risk of developing Lymphoedema, or who has already been diagnosed. These groups are facilitated by trained therapist and support nurse, who provide up-to-date information on the condition and its treatments; shared stories and experiences can help to lessen the concerns and worries that people experience.
If you need any further information, please contact the Centre.
(*A cost applies to the actual garment. The Hope Centre covers the fitting costs.)
With thanks to Sarah Barron and Vicki Farrell, MLD therapists in the HOPE Centre, for information in this article.
‘A PERSONAL STORY’
As a breast cancer survivor, Marie Reynolds has been living with arm Lymphodema since 2009 and Marie has kindly told us her story, an excerpt from which is below:
‘I would like to share my story and say that I have found a positive way to live with Lymphoedema comfortably over the last eight years.
‘Manual Lymphatic drainage and garment fitting became available within the Hope Cancer Support Centre, and as well as providing the much needed therapy, the staff are making more and more people aware of the problem and advising them to seek help earlier.
‘ Teaching preventative measures can help people from getting it further down the line. It is very important to keep the fluid moving, in order to prevent build up, and so to be able to continue using the arm.’
Marie says she has found the following helpful:
‘Firstly, don’t overdo anything! Do a little at a time. Elevate the affected limb whenever possible, do the exercises recommended by your therapist. Try swimming - I learned at a seniors age, in order to get the lymph moving. Or try walking - and feeling that fresh air.
Eat sensibly and enjoy your food. Sip at least eight glasses of water daily. Use moisturising lotion on the skin.
Remember to smile to yourself and even better at others. It lifts the spirits.
Use deep breathing regularly throughout the day and try to just take life one day at a time, it’s all we have to worry about. It does not have to be faced alone.
I no longer have that awful aching, but I still require regular treatments and thank God for HOPE. Three years after I had finished my treatment I faced the mirror and decided my next move... back to being a blonde! Best of all, I can now lift my arm enough to give my dear husband a decent bear hug again!!
Thank God for life, even with its little complications!’