Physical therapy crucial to cancer recovery

Physical therapy has been key to Marion Smith's breast cancer recovery. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

Physical therapy is something many people battling cancer don't consider, but should.

Movement has been key to one mountain breast cancer patient's recovery.

"I was not sick. I did not throw up. I was not nauseated," said 70-year-old Marion Smith.

Smith keeps moving throughout her diagnosis, surgery, and subsequent treatment for breast cancer.

"It wasn't that bad," Smith said of her chemo treatment. "I guess I have a high tolerance for things like that."

But lymphedema is a lingering problem for her.

Movements prescribed by a physical therapist are designed to help alleviate swelling from loss of lymph nodes.

"It can be quite painful," insisted physical therapist Rebecca Bermudez, a DPT of Hope Women's Cancer Center. "Treatments involve manual lymphatic drainage, light massage, just to encourage that fluid to find new pathways."

Compression and exercises are also important.

"When I don't (exercise), I think my shoulders feel a little heavy," Smith said. "I might start feeling a little heavy on the right side, so I know it's time to do my exercises."

One of the main benefits of therapy here is that Smith has learned specific exercises to take home and do for herself, pulling her toward wellness and away from the effects of lymphedema.

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