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August 30, 2011

Lymphedema Discussion to be Held at Simmons Cancer Institute at SIU

Women who have been treated for cancer will have the opportunity to learn about a possible side effect of treatment, lymphedema, at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 28 at Simmons Cancer Institute (SCI) at Southern Illinois University, 315 W. Carpenter St., Springfield. 

Lymphedema is caused by blockage in the lymphatic system and leads to swelling in the arms or legs, or in the stomach or genital area.  Cancer patients may be at risk of developing lymphedema following surgery that removes lymph nodes or radiation therapy.  According to the American Cancer Society, some signs of lymphedema include swelling, changes in skin texture, new aching or discomfort in parts of the body, less flexibility or movement in joints.

Experts estimate that between 20 to 40 percent of cancer survivors will develop lymphedema.  “Because lymphedema is so prevalent, it is imperative that we educate survivors,” said Wendy Schmitz-Johnson, an occupational therapist specializing in lymphedema treatment.  “Education allows individuals to make informed decisions and to feel more in control at a time when their lives often feel out of control.” 

The lymphedema event is free and open to women cancer patients and survivors regardless of where they have been treated.  It will be held during the monthly meeting of the WAY (Women Around You) Support Group, which focuses on maintaining physical, emotional and spiritual health during and after cancer treatment.  The group is for women who are currently being treated for cancer or who have had any type of cancer.  WAY is open to all women regardless of where they receive treatment.  It meets the fourth Wednesday of each month at SCI.

For more information about the group or to register for the event, call Ellen Brotzman-DeSart at 217-545-0798 weekdays.

The mission of the Simmons Cancer Institute at SIU is to serve the people of central and southern Illinois by addressing their present and future cancer care needs through education, research, patient care and community service.  Its website is