Lym­phoedema treat­ment at Hope Cen­tre

New Ross Standard - - NEWS -

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!’

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