Baptist Health Paducah 300PADUCAH, Ky. (2/25/18) — After breast cancer surgery in 2015, Lisa Reilly assumed the swelling in her right arm would go away. Reilly now knows she suffers from lymphedema, a chronic disease that results in a buildup of lymph fluid or swelling that occurs when the lymphatic system is either faulty or damaged.
The most common cause of lymphedema is cancer treatments that remove or damage lymph nodes or vessels. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are all risk factors. Early treatment, before permanent swelling is present, is very important.
“It was like a bowling ball hanging there,” said Reilly, 49. “I thought it was going to go away, but it didn’t. I didn’t know what it was.”
Baptist Health Paducah certified lymphedema therapists Holly Rodgers and Angie Lamb see patients like Reilly every day. That’s why they organized the hospital’s first-ever Lymphedema Awareness Day event last year. This year’s event will be 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, March 6, in the Larry Barton Atrium.
The day is celebrated nationally through the National Lymphedema Network, to help patients and bring awareness to the community. The event will feature local vendors with information on garments, treatment options and a free lymphedema assessment.
Rodgers and Lamb are the only certified lymphedema therapists in Paducah and they are part of a team at Baptist Health Paducah helping educate patients about lymphedema before surgery. Arm measurements are now taken on all breast cancer patients before surgery, so swelling is recognized when the arms are measured again after surgery.
“I first got interested in lymphedema in physical therapy school,” Rodgers said. “I did my master’s research project on lymphedema. It’s one of those conditions that didn’t have that many people doing anything about it. Now it’s taken over my world.”
Rodgers and Lamb primarily see breast cancer patients who have been affected. They want to educate patients about treatment options before they develop State 2 lymphedema.
“Stage 2 is irreversible,” Lamb said. “To not even be told this is a possibility, they can feel blindsided. Therapy can make a big difference – the earlier, the better.”
Reilly has Stage 2 lymphedema, but she credits Rodgers and Lamb with keeping it from getting any worse.
“They fixed me,” she said. “I’m broken and they made me feel whole.”
SurfKY News
Information proivded by Angie Timmons

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