As Breast Cancer Awareness Month comes to an end, I decided to do a piece. Almost every one of us has had a personal experience with cancer. I myself had a scare two years ago, and trust me, it was the most horrible feeling at the time, second to losing my dad and aunt to the disease. As I went into the operating room to remove the breast lump, as I waited a week to get the results, time raced … yet stood still. Thankfully I was cancer free and I appreciate the scar I have now knowing many wish a little scar is all they had to be concerned with.
I know the emotional turmoil experienced by the person that finds out they have cancer must be an unexplainable feeling. The family that has to go through it is never the same. It's a disease that eats away at the mind, body and soul of some; while others find peace and solace in the fact that they have the ability to fight to see another day, that their bodies do them proud.
While the focus this month has been mainly on breast cancer, I'll look at a few scenarios relating to the lower limbs.
First scenario – cancer detection
A potential client came into the clinic, a young man, and upon observation I noticed that his big toe was swollen beyond what I have ever seen. He had gone to many places and no one could determine what was wrong. I referred him to a specialist; and upon sample testing which was sent abroad due to the rare condition, it turned out that the gentleman had cancer. Because things were advanced, an amputation of a few toes was done.
Second scenario - toenails
During chemotherapy, some drugs people take can cause onycholysis – damage to the tissue that keeps your fingernails and toenails in place. Generally, it would resolve some months after completing chemo. However, due to the fact that toenails grow more slowly (at a rate of about half a centimetre every three months) than fingernails, it would take longer. Like fingernails, toenails can develop disorders — lines, ridges, discolourations, and may even come loose during chemotherapy. It's best to wear shoes that have sufficient toe room. Wide-toed shoes allow for better circulation, which may speed healing.
Third scenario –
Chemotherapy and radiation help in the fight against cancer, keeping you alive; but cells can also be destroyed. As well the body is sometimes weakened, manifesting itself in the form of pains, tingling, burning, and numbness. Depending on the type of treatment received, the long-term effects are different in each person. Some drugs can affect the small nerve fibres in the hands and feet.
Neuropathy can appear suddenly and occur in different parts of the body. It is usually strongest right after a chemo treatment, but tends to lessen. The symptoms sometimes peak after the last dose of treatment is taken. It could diminish, or take a gradual process of several months. However, in some cases, it may be irreversible and would never diminish.
It may help with strengthening of muscles that are weak. Exercises can range through motion, stretching and massage. Assistive devices such as orthotic braces, canes, and appropriate splints may also be recommended. Physiotherapy is also quite helpful in re-learning how to manipulate small objects and to avoid falls.
It helps to stimulate the damaged nerve endings, reducing numbness along with alleviating pains and symptoms of burning and tingling.
The relationship between massage and chemotherapy- induced neuropathy can show positive results in many cases. Sometimes massage may be combined with other physical exercises and treatments such as reflexology, and electrical therapy, to achieve better results. Massages enhance blood circulation in the nerves affected by chemotherapy; induce activity in the underlying soft tissue; ease nerve traps; and curb the pain triggers.
So those of you who are survivors, I salute you and congratulate your relatives who have, and continue to be at your side. To my many relatives and friends who have lost others to the disease, my prayers are with you. Remember to take the necessary precautions to stay healthy, since you are at higher risk than the average person of contracting the disease.
Your feet mirror your general health . . . cherish them!
Leana Huntley is an English trained foot health practitioner attached to ALMAWI Limited – The Holistic Clinic. Call to make an appointment at 662-1732 or email@example.com Tuesday - Saturday. Check for the Clinic at www.almawiclinic.com.