Event to focus on breast cancer effectWritten by Brandi Barhite | Community Ombudsman | email@example.com
Breast cancer puts you at risk for lymphedema.
But some people don’t know much about the painful side effect or that they are at risk for it.
The Victory Center and Renee’s Survivor Shop want to change that.
They will host a Lymphedema Health Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 3 at The Victory Center, 5532 W. Central Ave., Toledo. It is free and open to anyone.
Renee Schick, owner of Renee’s Survivor Shop, 5401 Secor Road, has had problems with lymphedema, a condition of localized fluid retention.
The five-year breast cancer survivor said lymphedema generally occurs because of poorly developed or missing lymph nodes, especially lymph node removal due to breast cancer. Radiation increases the risk.
Schick, 43, had 17 lymph nodes removed.
Bodies have a network of lymph nodes and lymph vessels that carry lymph fluid.
The lymph fluid contains white blood cells that help fight infections.
“I don’t know if all doctors are telling their patients,” Schick said of the potential of developing lymphedema.
The lymphatic system is known as the body’s second circular system and collects and filters the interstitial fluid of the body.
Those who develop lymphedema may experience swelling of the limbs, fingers and puffiness.
“It’s not just breast cancer survivors who can develop this,” Schick said. “There are lymph nodes in the lower parts of the body.”
Kelly Brooks, program director at The Victory Center, said people do not always get good information about lymphedema.
Special guests at the fair will include Dr. Anita Leininger and breast cancer survivor Barb Ulrich. Attendees will be able to talk to professionals, try out lymphedema products, see lymphatic massage demonstrations and learn how to try to prevent lymphedema.
Leininger said it is important to educate. Cancer patients should know the risks and what precautions to take. Getting an evaluation is key, she said.
“The risk never goes away,” Brooks said. “It’s not like if you don’t develop it, you won’t later. There are a number of ways to manage the condition, but the goal is to get the right information and treatment as early as possible.”
One prevention strategy is wearing a compression sleeve when flying in an airplane. Flying is a problem because of being immobile for so long, she said. Those at risk could fly several times before developing a problem.
“When you fly, wear a sleeve or garment even if you don’t have lymphedema,” Brooks said.
The Victory Center supports and educates cancer patients through individual and group programs. Renee’s Survivor Shop offers products, gifts and services for cancer patients. The two often work together and after hosting a small program about lymphedema last year wanted to expand it.
“If we have a good turnout, I don’t see why we wouldn’t have it every year because every year we have new survivors,” Schick said.