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Buddy Check 3

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Buddy Check 3 (Dealing With Lymphedema)

Updated: Tuesday, March 19 2013, 11:01 AM CDT
PENSACOLA, FL - American Cancer Society Research shows that 65-percent of Breast Cancer patients will develop Lymphedema.

Lymphedema occurs when the lymphatic system is damaged.

It's symptoms include chronic swelling of one of more limbs.

There is no cure for the condition but therapy can help alleviate the pain.

Breast Cancer Survivor Cindy Heidorn is a frequent flyer and after a recent trip she noticed major swelling in her left arm.

Cindy Heidorn/Breast Cancer Survivor; "There was just an associated pain with it that I felt, there was a heaviness and just a numbness that was just pervasive, always with me."

Heidorn's doctor referred her to certified Lymphedema Therapist Lindsay Sutley.

There are only a handful of Lymphedema therapists in the region. Sutley uses a treatment developed in germany during the 1970's. Only in the last twenty years have the techniques been used in the US Sutley says Lymphedema develops because a person's lympathic system has been damaged by cancer, surgery or radiation.

Breast cancer survivors are especially vulnerable.

When lymph nodes are removed during radical mastectomies -- like Heidorn had -- the body cannot drain the protein rich fluid that usually runs through the lymph system. Chronic swelling ensues.

Lindsay Sutley/Lymphedema Therapist, Baptist Hospital; "You need to help the Lymphatic System deal with that, and I do that by treating patients by using a specific type of massage. We can manually Lymphatic Drainage where we help to if you will detour the Lymphatic fluid to a part of the body that can absorb that fluid."

She applies special massage techniques and wraps the limb in strong, stretchy bandages that resist muscle contractions -- they also help treat the permanent condition.

Lindsay Sutley; "No, it won't ever go away. I get the honor of telling people. It's just not usually well received, but it is manageable."

Patients are then fitted with a compression garment they must wear almost around the clock. So far that's been okay with Heidorn.

She says it makes the condition so much more comfortable it's worth it. Heidorn had her surgery two years ago and just recently developed Lymphedema.

Lindsay Sutley; "It can happen that way. I had a lady who had a mastectomy 27 years ago and she just developed Lymphedema."))

Heidorn says she came into treatment with a lot of skepticism.

Cindy Heidorn; "I was really surprised and I have to tell you, I was about the jury may be out for me when I even started it. Thinking, this may work, it may not, you know. I'll just live with whatever I'll live with, but I was surprised by what a positive difference it made."Buddy Check 3 (Dealing With Lymphedema)


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