INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – It can happen after surgery or radiation to treat some cancers: Lymphedema can involve a painful build-up of fluid, oftentimes in your arms or legs.
During Lymphedema Awareness Month, Little Red Door Cancer Agency wants to remind everyone that help is available for those who have the condition.
One of their clients is Connie Smith, who battled breast cancer -- not once, but three different times. Then, came the next battle.
“I’m happy to be here, but there’s a lot of side effects that come with the treatments. I had 30 lymph nodes removed. It’s like you have a four-lane highway, and you shut part of the highway down. That’s how the fluid builds up,” Smith said.
Living with Lymphedema, Connie deals with painful swelling in her arm every day, but says one natural treatment makes a big difference -- therapeutic massages.
“Most of the time I’m in pain when I get here, but after she massages me, the pain reduces 50%,” Smith said.
It’s relief that Connie wouldn’t get otherwise, if it wasn’t for Little Red Door.
“I’m on Medicare and Medicare does not pay for messages,” smith said.
“They listen to your story and they always have big smiles, warm hugs -- I just have met so many new friends here,” Smith said.
The massage therapy is free through Little Red Door Cancer Agency’s Program called “Door to Wellness.”
“We’re very committed to using oncology certified practitioners. Our therapeutic massage program, our yoga program, our natural cooking classes -- it's all based on folks who have oncology training and expertise,” said Director and CEO at Little Red Door Fred Duncan.
The experts working there know just how vital that support can be.
“I had breast cancer 20 years ago,” said Massage Therapist Dawn McKay.
“That’s the greatest benefit -- the fact that I do understand what she’s going through,” McKay said.
“We tell everyone we’re survivors, we’re survivors – we’re thrivers. You survived the chemo, the radiation, the surgeries that caused changes and now you’re thriving. You have to learn how to live a new life,” McKay said.
As for Connie, she plans to continue thriving as a grandmother now.
“I’m looking forward to seeing them graduate from high school, college and maybe I’ll even get to see a great grandchild or two.”