TMH Living Well: Four tips on navigating breast cancer treatment | CraigDailyPress.com

TMH Living Well: Four tips on navigating breast cancer treatment

The Memorial Hospital

Myndi Christopher

A breast cancer diagnosis often turns your life upside down, forcing you into the unknown world of doctor's appointments, treatment and endless decisions that never come easy. Keep these five tips in mind to help you cope with medical appointments and treatments.

1) Enlist someone to come to appointments with you, or bring a notebook.1) Enlist someone to come to appointments with you, or bring a notebook.

1) Enlist someone to come to appointments with you, or bring a notebook.

What's strange about getting a cancer diagnosis is that you are bombarded with information while your head is reeling with emotions from the news. It's hard enough to understand medical information when life is calm, let alone when you feel distraught. Bring a friend or family member to appointments with you, and ask them to take notes — or take notes yourself. Then, take your time making the best choices for you.

2) Take advantage of TMH's nurse navigator.2) Take advantage of TMH’s nurse navigator.

2) Take advantage of TMH's nurse navigator.

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Wouldn't it be helpful to get the inside scoop when weighing decisions? That's what nurse navigators help you do, along with providing support. Jackie Smith is the Nurse Navigator with Women's Health Services at TMH. She can help you navigate your diagnosis, treatment and recovery, and give support on managing your emotions and finances.

"My role is to give support from beginning to end. I can help you through your initial fears and answer your immediate questions. I can help you figure out which appointments you need to set, and when, and even be there at your side during procedures, if desired," Smith said. She is a breast cancer survivor herself.

3) Take steps to prevent lymphedema.3) Take steps to prevent lymphedema.

3) Take steps to prevent lymphedema.

Lymphedema, swelling often in the arms or legs, is one of the most common side effects of breast cancer treatment. According to the Mayo Clinic, lymphedema is most commonly caused by the removal of lymph nodes during cancer treatment — a customary practice to stage cancer. It can also be caused by direct damage to lymph nodes due to radiation treatment.

It's important to know your risks before getting cancer procedures done. If a single node can be biopsied rather than taking several nodes, that's ideal. If radiation can be targeted to prevent damage to the lymph system, that's also smart. It may not prevent lymphedema but it can decrease your chances.

"Once you have lymphedema, it can't be cured. You'll have to manage it the rest of your life — and it will progress if left untreated. However, with lymphedema therapy the effects of lymphedema can be greatly reduced," said Danika Friedley, PT, DPT, CLT, Lymphedema Specialist with TMH's Cancer Rehab Services.

TMH is pleased to offer lymphedema services. For more information, contact Danika at 970-824-5992 or Danika.friedley@tmhcraig.org.

4) Eat well and exercise for best results.4) Eat well and exercise for best results.

4) Eat well and exercise for best results.

Studies show that eating more vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains help you fight cancer and give your body a boost during treatment. Treatments may affect how you taste and smell foods, making the foods you normally enjoy taste unpleasant while those you are not used to seeming more appealing. It's a good time to adopt healthy habits. Exercise after treatment can help improve fatigue or mental fogginess that can set in with certain treatments, including chemotherapy. Bottom line: take good care of yourself.

This weekly article with tips on living well is sponsored by The Memorial Hospital at Craig —improving the quality of life for the communities we serve through patient-centered healthcare and service excellence.This weekly article with tips on living well is sponsored by The Memorial Hospital at Craig —improving the quality of life for the communities we serve through patient-centered healthcare and service excellence.This weekly article with tips on living well is sponsored by The Memorial Hospital at Craig —improving the quality of life for the communities we serve through patient-centered healthcare and service excellence.

Breast Cancer Survivor Luncheon at TMH

Time: 12 to 1 p.m.

Date: Oct. 21

Place: TMH

If you are a survivor, please join us for inspiration and support.

In addition, during the month of October TMH is offering $80 mammograms using their new, advanced equipment. Call 970-824-9411 for more.

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