Lynne McCarthy is one of the lucky ones. She is a fighter and a survivor of breast cancer.
However, Lynne quickly learned life after cancer doesn’t come without its own complications. Sometimes those complications aren’t just personal; they can be medical and occur after treatment is complete.
“During treatment, my main goal was to stay alive,” Lynne shares. “Everything was focused on the now – cut it out, burn it out, for many, poison it out. And then, I rang the bell was deemed cancer-free and was sent back into my old life.”
A few months after undergoing surgery for her breast cancer, Lynne noticed her left breast was swelling and causing extreme pain. This pain occurred on and off for three years before Lynne was finally able to find some answers. She received a diagnosis of lymphedema.
Lymphedema is a condition that causes swelling from the build-up of lymph fluid present in the body. This condition typically occurs when vessels carrying lymph fluid are removed, resulting in increased buildup. Radiation treatment and large cancerous tumors in the body can block the lymph system as well.
Although there is no cure, lymphedema can be managed through treatment plans. After trying other treatments, Lynne finally found relief when she pursued physical therapy at Bon Secours. Working with her physical therapist Carrie Riddock at Bon Secours Physical Therapy at Westchester, Lynne began to feel like her normal self again.
“To say that I feel like I have my life back is an understatement,” Lynne states. “Instead of feeling helpless, I feel empowered. I no longer baby my arm, I am making it stronger. Instead of having to wear my compression garments all day, I only wear them during specific times. I am pain-free most days, and the swelling has dramatically decreased.”
Most patients suffering from lymphedema are unaware of the symptoms, so catching it early doesn’t always happen. Luckily, Lynne tackled her lymphedema before the condition worsened. After going through this experience, Lynne believes breast cancer patients should be educated about lymphedema and that it occurs in two out of every five patients.
“Cancer treatment doesn’t end when we ring the bell,” says Lynne. “We need to feel empowered after feeling powerless. Taking control back of our bodies via physical therapy is something every woman, and cancer survivor, should know is possible.”
In Lynne’s case, physical therapy was a game changer. Finding the right physical therapist and developing a personalized treatment plan has allowed Lynne to find normalcy in her life again.
Learn more about physical therapy services offered at Bon Secours.