Jan 30, 2008

Getting Help for Lymphadema

I found several things of note lately, hopefully you will find something helpful to your situtation.

Here is a link for THE MEDICARE APPEAL PROCESS FOR LYMPHEDEMA - Courtesy Bob Weiss
The information is specifically for Medicare, but you might be able to use some of the ideas or processes for private insurance if you have it. It's very good information.

If you need supplies, here is a great place to go: Lymphedema Products. They have everything from bandages, to compression garments, to helpful books. Right now they are having a sale on Crocs RX Silver Cloud Shoes, which are advertised as
Impregnated with silver particles, the Crocs Rx Silver Cloud creates an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal environment for the foot. This shoe is ideal for individuals with lymphedema who are susceptible to skin breakdown, ulcers, foot fungus, or infections. The super-soft foot bed provides a gentle environment for sensitive feet, while the roomy toe box accommodates the swollen foot without creating any tightness or pressure points. The protective front toe cap and elevated heel rim protect the lymphedematous foot from stubbing and bruising.
I also found an article that promises some help (at least in the future) to people suffering from lymphadema. The article was written in Top Cancer News (www.topcancernews.com

The frequent spread of certain cancers to lymph nodes often necessitates surgery or radiation therapy that damages the lymphatic system and can cause lymphedema, a condition of localized fluid retention that often increases susceptibility to infections.
The researchers of the University of Helsinki, Finland, and the Ludwig Institute of Cancer Research show that application of vascular endothelial growth factor-C (VEGF-C) to replace excised mouse lymph nodes and lymph vessels ensures formation of mature lymphatic vessels and incorporation of lymph node transplants into existing lymphatic vasculature. An improved outcome of lymph node transplantation is evidenced by improved lymphatic drainage and restoration of normal lymphatic vascular anatomy in VEGF-C-treated mice.

The ability to transfer lymph nodes that reconstitute a functional network of lymphatic vessels in adult tissues is of particular importance in cancer follow-up therapy, as lymph nodes can prevent systemic dissemination of metastases. Accordingly, VEGF-C-treated lymph nodes were more effective in trapping metastatic tumor cells than control transplants.

It has been estimated that approximately 20-30% of patients that have undergone irradiation or surgery of the armpit in response to lymph node metastases develop lymphedema later on. Damage to the large collecting lymphatic vessels, which resemble smaller veins, causes the vast majority of all lymphedemas. It has been estimated that several million patients suffer from such acquired lymphedema worldwide. The treatment of lymphedema is currently based on physiotherapy, compression garments and occasionally surgery, but means to reconstitute the collecting lymphatic vessels and cure the condition are limited.

The Finnish researchers applied vascular endothelial growth factor-C (VEGF-C) gene therapy in mice after surgery removal of axillary lymph nodes, a procedure that mimicked removal of axillary lymph nodes in patients in response to metastatic breast cancer. They found that treatment of lymph node-excised mice with adenoviral VEGF-C gene transfer vectors induced robust growth of the lymphatic capillaries, which gradually underwent an intrinsic remodeling, differentiation and maturation program into functional collecting lymphatic vessels, including formation of uniform endothelial cell-cell junctions and intraluminal valves.

As VEGF-C quite potently increases the rate of lymph node metastasis, the researchers sought to develop a mode of therapy that could be safely applied also in patients that had been treated for cancer. They established that the VEGF-C therapy greatly improved the outcome of lymph node transplantation. As a result, they were able to reconstruct the normal gross anatomy of the lymphatic network in the axilla, including both the lymphatic vessels and the nodes, suggesting that VEGF-C therapy combined to autologous lymph node transfer is feasible in the clinical setting.

The advantage of this rationale is increased patient safety in instances of recurrent malignancies, as the transplanted lymph nodes provide an immunological barrier against systemic dissemination of cancer cells, as well as other pathogens.

The findings demonstrate for the first time that growth factor therapy can be used to generate functional and mature collecting lymphatic vessels. This, combined with lymph node transplantation, allows for complete restoration of the lymphatic system in damaged tissues, and provides a working model for future treatment of lymphedema in patients. Effective lymph node transplantation holds tremendous potential for immunotherapy applications in the treatment of diseases such as cancer and chronic infections. Furthermore, the findings encourage the use of growth factor therapy to enhance the vascular integration and viability of transplanted tissues.

The group is currently pursuing this form of therapy in larger animal models in order to eventually treat lymphedema patients. Further the group aims to discover methods that would accelerate lymphatic vessel maturation.

And lastly an article that reminds us that we need a good supportive network around us for those times when lymphadema is kicking our mental and physical butts! This article comes from the Eastern Kentucky Appalachian News Express.

Everyone needs a good cheerleader

Sometimes we can be so closed-minded we fail to see things beyond our immediate circumstances. Stuck in the moment, we are unable to see past our dilemma

Thus was my frame of mind last week when I complained of not being able to throw horseshoes for fear of developing lymphedema — a swelling of the arm. I was in my rocking chair, as Joyce Meyers describes in the “Beauty For Ashes” series, feeling sorry for myself as I dealt with loss about which I could do nothing at the momen

The cool thing about life though is there are always people around to help us through difficult times, and they often remind us that there is more out there than we are giving ourselves credit for, or can see for that matter.

As Joyce reminds us, we are all responsible for dealing with the obstacles in life causing us conflict. My mother, looking on the bright side of things, reminded me that I did not have to give up horseshoes. I would simply have to learn to throw left-handed, she said, reminding me I was already pretty good at using my left hand and it wouldn't take too much practice.

What would we do without cheerleaders in our lives?

I have definitely needed one over the past couple of weeks as I lost a cousin to cancer and watched as my mother and four of the aunts I have left, came to support the family of an aunt who had already lost the battle to cancer. It was depressing and painful as I could see the fear on my mother’s face.

The conflict became even greater when I went for a chemo treatment last week and met Jewelne Turner of Ratliffs Creek, who is a six-year survivor of breast cancer. Jewelne was brave as she informed me that doctors had given her daughter, Mitzi Thompson of Frozen, two months to a year to live from colon cancer.

Mitzi continues to fight, two years later, with the help of her father Jimmy Turner, husband James Thompson and especially her daughter, Kennedy, 13. Mitzi spent her first anniversary with her new husband in the hospital, she said, calling him a “Godsend.” Always with Mitzi on a trip to chemo or the hospital, Jeweline hangs tough, crediting prayer with her daughter’s ability to keep fighting.

Thank you Jeweline and Mitzi, and Mom — my cheerleaders this week.

Loretta Tackett is a staff writer for the “News-Express.”

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