A mum-of-three who developed lymphoedema following treatment for breast cancer is sharing her experiences of a specialist clinic at St Catherine’s Hospice as part of the charity’s 30th anniversary Give A Gift campaign.
Anne-Marie Hodgson was diagnosed with breast cancer in October last year and underwent surgery to remove the lump and her lymph nodes from one arm. This was followed by a three week course of radiotherapy in January, which later caused her to develop lymphoedema in her chest.
“When the nurse first told me I’d be going to St Catherine’s for treatment I have to admit I was shocked and quite anxious - I didn’t realise there was so much more that goes on there.”Anne-Marie Hodgson
The condition affects the lymphatic system, the process by which waste fluid is filtered and drained from the body.
If this system stops working, the accumulation of fluid in the tissues causes swelling known as lymphoedema.
Anne-Marie, from Bamber Bridge, was referred to The Woodside Clinic at St Catherine’s Hospice for treatment.
The clinic, located behind the main hospice building in the grounds of St Catherine’s Park, Lostock Hall, is currently appealing for help to raise £3,950 to fund a piece of state-of-the-art equipment called a Moisture Meter, as part of the Give A Gift campaign with the Evening Post.
The device can measure the amount of fluid gathered in parts of the body which are difficult to access, enabling nurses to compare readings at the start and end of treatment and tailor further treatments accordingly, as lymphoedema specialist nurse Ursula Dugdale explained.
“We can measure lymphoedema in arms and legs using a tape measure fitted around the circumference of the limb,” she said. “But with head, neck and breast lymphoedema it isn’t possible to take readings in this way, meaning we have to judge the progress on sight and touch alone.
“With this equipment we’d be able to clearly show how much fluid has been drained from the affected area.”
Anne-Marie, manager at New Longton Sports and Social Club, is already planning a beer and music festival at the club on October 9, 10 and 11 to raise funds towards it.
She urged others to get behind the campaign and help The Woodside hit their target.
The 49-year-old said: “When the nurse first told me I’d be going to St Catherine’s for treatment I have to admit I was shocked and quite anxious.
“I didn’t realise there was so much more that goes on there, but as soon as I knew more I realised there was nothing to worry about.
“It was so helpful going for the first time and having someone explain what lymphoedema meant for me.
“They started by teaching me some massage techniques that I could use myself at home and then I had a course of laser treatment which really helped soften and drain the fluid.
“I could certainly see and feel the difference, but without the Moisture Meter there was no way to officially track my treatment.
“I think that would be a big advantage – knowing that you are making progress is good for your confidence and self-esteem and if it helps target the treatment even more effectively going forward, then all the better.”
- If you are interested in contributing towards the Moisture Meter, either through a fund-raising event or donation, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01772 695290.