EL PASO, Texas-- The month of October is not only Breast Cancer Awareness month, it’s also National Physical Therapy month. This month is an annual opportunity to raise awareness about the benefits of physical therapy.
For breast cancer patients, those benefits can range from relieving stress to gaining strength and confidence back. For breast cancer survivor, Janice Rawson, that is exactly what physical therapy helped her with after her breast cancer diagnosis.
“I’ve always been very very healthy and I haven’t had any kind of difficulty until I had breast cancer,” said Rawson who has been cancer free for three years.
However, the journey to being cancer free wasn't always easy for Rawson.
“My hand started swelling and I couldn’t figure out what it was, said Rawson.
She knew that the swelling in her arm was not normal so she went to see her doctor who encouraged her to see a physical therapist. Physical Therapy was something Rawson wasn’t too familiar with.
“I didn’t know what to expect because I’ve never been in physical therapy before but when I walked in all the people were very very nice,” said Rawson who was referred to Spectrum Therapy Consultants in west El Paso.
“Janice unfortunately had something called Lymphedema," explained Sandra Terrazas, Founder and physical therapist at Spectrum Therapy Consultants.
According to Terrazas, 35% of women get diagnosed with Lymphedema when they have their lymph nodes removed and radiation therapy is performed. This can lead to swelling in the arm.
Rawson was able to get the swelling down with regular physical therapy sessions that helped her mobilize her arm more and her sessions also helped her fix her posture.
Physical therapy for breast cancer patients has many benefits including boosting self esteem, reducing anxiety and helping patients gain their strength back.
“Exercise is really important in these patients because many undergo an elective hysterectomy and are pushed into menopause. So we have to make sure that that bone density and the strength of that bone is appropriate and exercise is the best way of doing it,” said Terrazas.
For Rawson, physical therapy sessions were the light at the end of a dark tunnel.
“When my doctor referred me here I was so thankful because I could see an end," said Rawson, "This therapy here helped me in various ways because it gave me the tools that I needed in order to take care of myself.”
Rawson was also able to receive a compression sleeve through The Stand with Estela fund to help her in her breast cancer recover process.
“I mean it swells and it hurts and if you get the compressor sleeve and you can’t afford one, it’s not gonna help you,” explained Rawson.
Compression sleeves are not covered by most cancer patients insurances, but through funds like The Stand With Estela Fund, women are able to receive these extra tools to help make their recovery process easier.
“Fortunately the Stand with Estela Fund realized that this was an important asset. That it was a missing link to patients who could get the treatment but they couldn’t get the maintenance that was required to keep the arm swelling down and Janice was able to be blessed and get that from the Stand with Estela foundation,” said Terrazas.
The Stand with Estela Fund will be having a mammogram and flu vaccine drive-thru health fair Saturday October 24th at the Viva Ford car dealership on North Desert Boulevard.
You can sign up for a free 3D mammogram at University Medical Center. Five hundred women over the age of 40 without health insurance will receive will receive a voucher. No doctors orders are needed. Five hundred free adult flu shots will also be given on site.