P.D. Hinduja Hospital & Medical Research Centre in association with India Lymphedema Foundation organized a workshop, hosted by Ms. Michele Coxon, Certified Lymphedema Therapist, USA. The workshop was attended by more than 100 participants including patients, therapists from other hospitals in Mumbai and those interested in understanding disease management with an aim to give people a chance to live independently through self-management.
Lymphedema is the abnormal swelling of a particular part of the body which involves the accumulation of excess fluids due to a faulty or damaged lymphatic system. Globally, the disease affects 140 to 250 million individuals1 and is caused due to primary (genetic mutation) and secondary factors (post cancer treatment). People suffering with secondary lymphedema are more common, as those who undergo cancer treatment usually have their lymph nodes removed, thereby increasing their chances of developing lymphedema.
The workshop was hosted by Ms. Michele Coxon who has over 4 decades of experience in her field of expertise. The workshop provided a 360 degree overview of the disease- its symptoms, risk factors, treatment options, etc. along with patient demonstrations to help those present acquire a better understanding of the disease and self-management. Further, Ms. Coxon conducted a session on how to take care of oneself through exercise and other methods.
Michele Coxon, Certified Lymphedema Therapist from USA said, “I believe the most important part of living with a disease like this is to understand the extent of what one is suffering from. It may look like just a swelling of the hand or leg but essentially, it is toxic fluid that is circulating in one’s body that is affecting the entire system. Through this workshop at P.D. Hinduja Hospital & MRC, my goal is to reach as many people as I can to share the importance and use of therapy to help people live a normal life.”
Today, there is increased awareness among the medical fraternity who play a major role in safeguarding patients from lymphedema. At P.D. Hinduja Hospital & MRC, patients are given a chance to mentally and physically prepare themselves. Those who are most susceptible, are counselled and informed in advance that they might develop lymphedema. Further, they are sent to a lymphedema therapist to learn the necessary exercises involved and the precautionary steps they can take, if and when symptoms arise.
At the workshop Dr. Sanjay Agarwala, Director – Professional Services, P.D. Hinduja Hospital & MRC said, “Presently the disease does not have a cure and the number of hospitals and clinics that have therapists to help people suffering with this disease are extremely minimal. We organized this initiative to reach out to people, empower them and give them a chance to have a better quality of life.”
Dr. Asha Kapadia, Chief of Medicine & Head, Department of Oncology, P.D. Hinduja hospital & MRC said, “We take multiple precautionary and educational steps at the hospital to help people cope with Lymphedema. Apart from taking care of oneself physically, one’s emotional and mental health is also very important. The more information and awareness we can share and create, the more the chances of helping people and giving them a chance to live a fulfilling life”.
The disease is overlooked globally, underdiagnosed and under treated, however, early detection, along with diligent care, compression treatments and physical therapy can help in better management and reduction of swelling and discomfort.
The Oncology department at P. D. Hinduja Hospital & MRC also runs a doctor-patient interactive forum known as Mahek to bring together people suffering with cancer to share their stories and motivate each other.