Help available for lymphoedema patients

Jan Hunter is raising awareness about lymphoedema. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER
Jan Hunter is raising awareness about lymphoedema. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

The Illawarra Lymphoedema Service will hold an iced tea party on Friday to raise awareness about the serious condition that affects many cancer patients.

Spokeswoman Jan Hunter said around one in five patients with breast, gynaecological, prostate and melanoma cancers would develop the disorder which causes chronic swelling of limbs and other parts of the body.

Ms Hunter, a lymphoedema therapist who runs Alchemy Health in Mount Keira, said there was no cure for the condition but there were a variety of ways to prevent or manage it.

"The Australasian Lymphology Association holds a high tea event during Lymphoedema Awareness Week each year and we have organised our iced tea event in conjunction with that," she said.

"We will have a variety of information available, plus some displays and demonstrations."

Ms Hunter said cancer surgery or treatments like radiation often damaged the lymph nodes and vessels, which restricted the flow of lymph fluid and caused swelling.

"This can be extremely debilitating, and disfiguring, especially in the case of throat or tongue cancer where it can affect a person's ability to eat and talk properly," she said.

"If it develops in the limbs, then the arm or leg can swell and be grossly big and heavy, causing pain and even lack of mobility."

Ms Hunter urged any cancer patients who started to feel heaviness or tingling in any part of their body to contact a lymphoedema therapist as early intervention was key.

The iced tea party will be held at Alchemy Health, 196 Mount Keira Road, on Friday from 5pm to 8pm.

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