Antigua Breast Friends Outreach

2016-05-23 21.41.31

 

In May 2016, The South Florida Breast Cancer Rehab Center, a florida based NPO, hosted an educational trip to teach women in the Antigua Breast Friends group basic management skills for lymphedema. In just 4 days we impacted the lives of 15 women, most with advanced levels of lymphedema. We instructed in topical skin cooling, multi-layer compression wrapping, arm stretches, and each woman was also provided with compression garments. We did this all with the generous support of some good folks who prefer to remain  anonymous. We can report that we received a generous contribution of bandages from The Academy of Lymphatic Studies. And several SUPER-cool women, friends and patients of our clinic based in Pembroke Pines, Florida, who know first hand what it means to live with breast cancer related lymphedema funded all the compression garments!

During our stay we provided one-on-one care and education to the women of the Breast cancer support group, we exchanged knowledge with interested local rehab staff and we had an opportunity to educate the general public. We presented at a well attended public lecture which was videotaped and later broadcasted on local television. The seminar was supported by the leadership of Mount St. John’s Medical Center under the medical direction of Dr. Allen Duncan and was conducted on the grounds of the St. John’s Medical Center. We made a promise to the women to return and continue our support and training. Antigua is a beautiful and hospitable island and this exchange was heartwarming, memorable and successful. We made many new friends!

Lymphedema in warm climates, in the summer, and with exercise.

Women living with breast cancer related lymphedema and who live in hot tropical climates experience more daily fluctuations in tissue swelling than women who live in more temperate climates. Heat is known to increase cellular metabolism and can exacerbate the backflow of fluid from the lymphatic vessels into the surrounding layers of skin and connective tissue. Women with lymphedema similarly report that after exercise, when metabolism and body temperatures have increased, that they experience an increase in swelling. Daily fluctuations in lymphedema is common in all people with lymphedema but little is yet know about the degree of fluctuations. A great benefit of topical skin cooling is the rapid decrease in skin temperature which immediately impacts the superficial lymphatic system by decreasing tissue pressure.  Topical skin cooling is the therapeutic modality that will level the field between those with and without resources: It is inexpensive, it is readily available, especially in countries where Western standards of care are unattainable.

Future outreach

We plan to continue our work in  Antigua and expand our outreach to other countries internationally. Please contact us if you would like to underwrite an outreach program. Manufacturers and distributors of lymphedema products, foundations, sympathetic individuals and educational institutions are welcome partners.

Donations can be made by the PayPal link below or checks can be mailed to the address listed in the Contact link.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  –  Mahatma Gandhi

With deep gratitude,

Jean

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