MANY of us are aware that this October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month but how many of us know about lymphoedema – for many women the forgotten trauma after breast cancer?
Macmillan Cancer Support is raising awareness of the distressing and incurable condition which up to a quarter of women develop in the arms or chest after surgery or radiotherapy for breast cancer.
The lymphoedema, or swelling, happens when lymph nodes are damaged or removed. Having successfully gone through breast cancer treatment, developing this chronic and painful condition can be a severe blow and have a huge impact on their life.
Even daily tasks like driving and housework can be an ordeal, trying to find clothes to fit can be very demoralising and it can seriously affect relationships.
Julie Cunneen, Lymphoedema clinical lead nurse at Moseley Hall Hospital, said: “Women with lymphoedema can be helped to understand and manage their condition so that it no longer dominates their lives. They should ask their GP to be referred for help and advice.
“They may need treatment such as compression bandaging or massage to reduce the swelling. They can also be shown how to help themselves by wearing a compression sleeve, using moisturisers, carrying out a programme of gentle exercise or perhaps getting a partner or friend to do some simple massage.
“Getting the help you need can put you back in control of your life. ”
For support and help with lymphoedema or for any questions about cancer call Macmillan free on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm) or visit www.macmillan.org.uk.