It was shocking enough for Lois Sudol to learn that she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. So, when she realized she was experiencing lymphedema after treatment...she was at a loss.
"I didn't expect to get it. I thought I was being careful with my arm, doing my exercises," says Sudol.
Lymphedema is an accumulation of swelling that can happen in most often a lymph, sometimes in the head or neck area after cancer treatment.
In Sudol's case, it was only a few weeks after her breast cancer treatment.
"I noticed the back of my hand was swollen and I called my oncologist and they had me come in that day and she told me I had lymphedema and they made me an appointment with Kathy to get therapy right away," says Sudol.
"Usually a patient will say they have a feeling of heaviness in their arm or sometimes it feels like they can't get their arm down to their side because their might be swelling underneath their arm," says Kathy Bechtold a certified lymphedema therapist with Munson Medical Center.
She worked with Sudol on a regular basis in therapy.
"Treatment will be variable depending on the severity of lymphadema. If they have mild lymphadema sometimes we'll send them for education," says Bechtold.
"Kathy also did lymph drainage on me and then trained me to do that everyday at home," says Sudol.
What's also key to note is that people can get lymphedema at different times after cancer treatment and there is currently no cure, but it can be properly managed.
"It can occur anytime throughout the person's lifetime. Sometimes immediately and sometimes 25 to 30 years later," says Bechtold.
"I think as a breast cancer survivor we always need to be aware that it's a possibility even if it doesn't happen right away it can happen 20 years down the road, so I think it's always important to pay attention," says Sudol.
You can find out more on Lymphedema on Munson Healthcare's website by clicking here.