You Have Questions, We Have Answers
Battling cancer is a frightening experience for patients and their families. However, we are here to help you fight cancer and the side effects from diagnosis to being cancer free
- From Susan, Ben's daughter: My dad has cancer. He is really struggling to get through his days and seems to get down more often than we' like to see. The chemotherapy is taking its toll. His energy level, mood, even how he relates to us seems to be affected at times. We know the MedStar Cancer Program has the best cancer rehabilitation component of any health care provider in our region. How can the MedStar Cancer Rehabilitation services help my dad?
- No question about it, Susan, cancer and many of the treatments used to help your dad beat cancer do take their toll on a person. Pain, cancer-related fatigue, balance challenges, difficulty doing activities people enjoy, the list goes on. It is important for us to Ben re-engage in activities he enjoys or needs to do. We help in addressing pain control measures, show your dad how to compete activities he wants or needs to do while using less energy, improve his strength and endurance so his ability to do activities increases, work on balance if that is impacting his mobility or activities, can help address his sleep if challenges with sleeping are impacting his energy and if needed can suggest some equipment that will enable your dad to get back into the swing of things. All of this will make a big difference in how he feels. Being unable to do what you wish can get any of us down, and with cancer the challenges can mount. We are here to help.
- Rick regarding his wife Mary: My wife recently had a mastectomy with reconstruction immediately following. She remains very hesitant to use her arm due to pain, has some mild swelling still and insists that it will get better on its own. Is there something that the MedStar Cancer Rehabilitation team can do to help her improve the use of her arm, and address this swelling, or does it just get better on its own?
- Thank you for the question. Rick. This is a question that we hear often, where people just don’t know what the options are for post surgical rehabilitation. The MedStar Cancer Program recommends that anyone who undergoes mastectomy/lumpectomy should at the very least be evaluated by one of our therapists. They can get baseline measurements to monitor for any changes in edema, range of motion/strength limitations, any scar healing issues, as well as performance of daily activities. It is important to get this evaluation relatively soon after your surgery to avoid any setbacks down the road. We would like to meet with Mary to get some baseline measurements, give her education materials, teach her how to address the swelling now so it more effectively resolves and to prevent it from becoming quite problematic and begin treatment for any other issues she is experiencing. Great question, Rick! We are here for you and Mary.
- This question is from Sheryl regarding her sister Tonya who has lung cancer:
I am hoping you can help. My sister is being treated for lung cancer. She is a single mother and has 2 young children. Tonya sleeps a lot during the day, feels weak and tired and has difficulty breathing during activities around the house. She is taking chemotherapy which drains her after the treatment. My sister has always been a very active person who loves being outdoors playing with her children, going to the movies and shopping at the mall. Now she sits around the house and is tired all the time. Caring for her children is becoming more and more challenging for her. I came over to take her to the lunch and she is too fatigue to even leave the house. I want to know what can be done to help Tonya return to playing with the children and being less tired during the day.
- Sheryl, you asked a great question. Tonya has been through a lot with her lung cancer diagnosis and MedStar Cancer Program can help her with the recovery process and provide education information for how you can help her at home. It is common for cancer patients to be tired and weak from various cancer treatments, like chemotherapy. It will benefit Tonya to been seen in physical therapy for an evaluation of cancer related fatigue, weakness and functional limitations. She can begin to feel better with a specific exercise program to make her stronger and less tired. We will show her energy conservation principles and teach her how to do the things she needs to do by simplifying how she accomplishes them. This will help her better get through her days during her cancer treatments. Cancer can cause a change with Tonya's activities for a while in the beginning but she will regain her stamina and strength to remain active with the family. We are passionate and care about the well-being of Tonya and want to improve her quality of life.
- I have been having trouble with balance since my chemotherapy. I have not fallen, but I am afraid that I will. Is that normal?
- Chemotherapy can affect your nerves causing problems with balance, in addition to other symptoms like tingling, numbness, or weakness. We call these symptoms neuropathy. For many patients these symptoms improve over time, but until then, rehabilitation can help. Our therapists can help you with your balance to make your mobility stronger, safer and more enjoyable.