Baptist Health Paducah to host Lymphedema Awareness Day event

February 27, 2017

Certified lymphedema therapists Holly Rodgers and Angie Lamb of Baptist Health Rehabilitation stay busy day in and day out with just one type of patient – those suffering from lymphedema.

Certified lymphedema therapists Holly Rodgers and Angie Lamb of Baptist Health Rehabilitation stay busy day in and day out with just one type of patient – those suffering from lymphedema.

Baptist Health Paducah is hosting it’s first-ever Lymphedema Awareness Day event, which is celebrated nationally through the National Lymphedema Network, to help those patients and bring awareness to the community. The event will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, March 6, in the Larry Barton Atrium and feature vendors, treatment options and a free lymphedema assessment.

Rodgers and Lamb are the only certified lymphedema therapists in Paducah and they are providing help and hope to people who once felt hopeless.

“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.”

Lymphedema is a chronic disease that results in a build up of lymph fluid or swelling that occurs when the lymphatic system is either faulty or damaged. The most common cause 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.

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.”

Rosemary Langston of Paducah had breast cancer surgery in 1990, but she wasn’t educated about lymphedema. Her right arm is permanently swollen and she wears a compression garment all the time.

Baptist breast nurse navigator Terri Walters, RN, told Langston about the therapy offered at Baptist Rehab. Even though she has Stage 2, she still saw reduced swelling after her treatments with Rodgers and Lamb. They also taught her how to do exercises at home to help the condition.

“I think if I had the same surgery today, things would be different,” she said.

That’s the goal of Rodgers and Lamb. They are part of a new team at Baptist Health Paducah studying how to help 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.

Patricia Carter began therapy while undergoing treatment for breast cancer. “My arm felt tingly and maybe it shouldn’t have been,” she said. “They’ve taught me how to do exercises and massage. It’s helped my attitude for one thing. There is help.”

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