Phit Phorum: Mary Lynn Diagnosed with Cancer
Mary Lynn is a 60-year-old nurse who was recently diagnosed with uterine cancer. Prior to her diagnosis, Mary Lynn was an active person, working full-time at the local hospital, gardening on the weekends, and enjoying ballroom dancing several evenings a week. She also liked to travel and work out at her neighborhood gym.
Mary Lynn wanted to minimize the side effects of her treatment as early as possible, so she met with her physical therapist following her diagnosis and prior to her surgery.
Mary Lynn’s physical therapist conducted a full evaluation of her strength, flexibility, balance, sensation, coordination, and endurance. He observed how well she could walk, go up and down stairs, and get into and out of a chair.
He designed a treatment program to address her specific problems, which included posture, muscle strength and flexibility problems, mild balance loss, and low endurance. He taught her exercises to strengthen her weakened muscles, stretch them gently, regain her balance, and rebuild her aerobic endurance. Mary Lynn completed several sessions with her physical therapist before her surgery. She felt stronger and more confident about the surgery because of her improved physical condition.
Mary Lynn’s cancer treatment included a hysterectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. She continued to receive treatments from her physical therapist after her surgery and during her chemotherapy treatments.
Mary Lynn’s physical therapist repeated her full examination every few weeks, or whenever she felt new symptoms. At each visit, he asked her to describe any current problems or side effects. He examined her surgical incision to monitor healing. Shortly following surgery, Mary Lynn said she felt some pelvic discomfort and had experienced some incontinence. After she started the chemotherapy, she described experiencing numbness and burning in her feet, and a loss of balance when standing or walking. She also noted that she wasn’t hearing as well, had gained weight, and was feeling fatigue throughout the day.
Mary Lynn’s physical therapist regularly updated her treatment program to address any new problems. He applied gentle electrical stimulation to her feet to help relieve her discomfort. He taught her exercises to strengthen and reactivate the muscles in her pelvic region, and relieve her pain and incontinence. He gave her a simple, easy home program to do for a few minutes each day. Mary Lynn readily agreed to the treatment, and stuck with her home program; she knew that doing so would speed her recovery.
With the help of her physical therapist, Mary Lynn improved steadily over the next few months. She noticed that she always felt better after her treatment in the physical therapy clinic, and after exercising.
Mary Lynn was able to continue her gym workouts in a modified way, during her cancer treatment, with the advice and guidance of her physical therapist. She continued her physical therapy and exercise program throughout her chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and increased her exercise level back to her precancer levels within a few weeks after the end of chemotherapy.
Her physician was pleased to see how active and strong Mary Lynn was just a few weeks after finishing her cancer treatment. Because she was able to maintain a good level of fitness during treatment, she was able to get back to the ballroom dance studio, as well.
And just this week, Mary Lynn was proud to share her latest crop of tomatoes and peppers with her neighbors!
*Adapted from www.apta.org