Making the Most of It
New symptom management program helps patients get back to their lives, con't.
Melissa KenneyGoals: Relieve depression, reduce pain, improve mobility, lessen fatigue
Before surgery for breast cancer last November, Melissa Kenney played softball, golfed and bowled. She was an active 32-year-old.
But Kenney developed blood clots after surgery. Although they were successfully treated, she continued to experience swelling and shooting pains from her neck down into her arm. Doctors prescribed Vicodin, but were hesitant to refer her to physical therapy because of her high risk for clots.
"I kept thinking I should be feeling better. I thought, 'I'm 32; I can't live like this,'" Kenney said. "I know it takes time, but it's so hard to go from being able to do everything to being able to do nothing."
Kenney was referred to the Symptom Management & Supportive Care Clinic, where she received a new prescription for a stronger pain medication -- which has been more successful in relieving her pain. The team suggested she track in a diary when her pain worsened so that they could help to fine-tune her medication regimen.
The team also referred Kenney to a physical therapist trained to manage lymphedema, the condition causing Kenney's symptoms. The therapist showed Kenney exercises to help improve her range of motion and re-fit a compression sleeve that began to loosen as her arm circumference shrank two centimeters.
Kenney also met with social worker Claire Casselman to help manage emotions that were starting to become overwhelming. Casselman encouraged her to expand her journaling to include her feelings.
"I thought I could handle things on my own because I'm a strong person," Kenney said. "But it's nice to talk to someone who's not a family member or a friend who will say, 'I know,' or try to console you. You think that you're not supposed to have bad days once the pain is under control. But it was great to talk with someone who said, 'Well, yeah, you're allowed to feel like that and you're not crazy.'"
Visit the Symptom Management & Supportive Care Program web page.
To make an appointment, please talk to your health-care team or call 877-907-0859.