Free Class with Healthy Tips for After Breast Cancer Surgery

SunflowerI recently heard about a free class offered at the Mills Breast Cancer Institute. I asked local Physical Therapist,  Kim Mills, to tell us about it.

This FREE class is available to ALL pre and post breast surgery patients (not just for Carle patients). Patients are welcome to attend the class before or after their surgery or even both, if they find that helpful, but the class content remains the same each time.

Classes are held monthly on the second Wednesday and fourth Friday at the Mills Breast Cancer Institute. To reserve your spot call (217)383-6636.

Can you tell me a bit about the Arise class and how it helps women who have had mastectomies?

The Arise class is designed to give breast surgery patients helpful information to further promote their healing process. This class is a one-hour class which includes scar healing techniques, gentle range of motion exercises, lymphedema education/prevention tips, and much more. Class participants have been grateful for the class and have stated how beneficial the information has been in helping them to know what they can and should be doing after their surgery.

The class has been named “Arise” because it’s so important for patients to realize the importance of getting up and getting moving again after their surgery (as long as their doctors haven’t given them any movement limitations).

What’s your favorite thing about the community here?

I Love how Bike-able this community is becoming and the many beautiful parks in Champaign/Urbana.

What’s your favorite local lunch place?

Favorite lunch spot would be Milo’s in Urbana! Lovely setting and delicious food!

Kim Mills, PT


Kim Mills is a PT who works for Carle Foundation Hospital. She’s taught this class since 2012 and is so thankful for the anonymous donor who makes this class possible through giving via the Carle Philanthropy Center.


Physical Therapy for Cancer Survivors. Ask the Expert.

weightsI frequently suggest folks talk to their doctors about physical therapy, whether they are recovering from injury or experiencing cording in the underarm area or swelling post-cancer treatment (lymphedema).  I interviewed Elizabeth Camp, a Physical Therapist at Carle to find out more about the benefits of physical therapy for cancer survivors. 

What is the most common reason cancer survivors seek out physical therapy?
There are many reasons that a cancer survivor might seek out therapy.

1) Some patients have a new onset of swelling in the arm , leg or trunk either immediately following treatment which doesn’t resolve or even years into survivorship. New presentations of edema that occurs after an extended time out from surgery or radiation should be assessed by the MD before referral for CDT intervention. (Note from Karyn: CDT is Complete Decongestive Therapy)

2) Patients may benefit from education regarding stage 0 lymphedema, prevention tactics, fitting of prophylactic compression to wear during high risk activities such as travel and heavy exercise, and skin care/protection against infection. Cellulitis is a frequent cause of lymphedema onset in patients that have completed treatment and did not have lymphedema initially. (note from Karyn: lymphedema ranges from stage 0 or no visible swelling to stage 3 or severe swelling)

3) Some patients have issues with limited shoulder mobility following surgery/radiation which can be addressed.

4) Limitations in shoulder/elbow mobility that is accompanied by “tightness” extending down the arm into the elbow or wrist can be an indication of axillary web syndrome (AWS). AWS most often is present during treatment or immediately following surgery/radiation interventions.

5) Various chemotherapy agents can impact the patients general health resulting in decreased strength, endurance, and can result in cardio-pulmonary limitations. Patients may benefit from therapy to direct a supervised rehabilitation program as they try to resume their former activity level.

What are the benefits of physical therapy for cancer survivors?

Physical/Occupational therapy can be of benefit for cancer survivors in many ways.
1) Education provision regarding lymphedema, expected prognosis, options for treatment
2) Supervised exercise programming to improve function and activity tolerance
3) Preventative or maintenance compression garment measurement and fitting
4) Instruction in home manual lymph drainage/exercise/compression/skin care program to prevent progression of lymphedema.

You teach lymph drainage massage to breast cancer survivors. How important is this in preventing the development of lymphedema post cancer treatment?

Manual lymph drainage is a technique that helps to increase lymph drainage from the involved region either through remaining pathways or by re-routing the drainage through another regional node system. This drainage is very important to the prevention of lymphedema onset. Lymphedema occurs when the high protein fluid is allowed to accumulate in the tissue resulting in progression of the edema from Stage 0 to Stage 1 or even Stage 2.

What do you love about the community here?
I enjoy the “small town” feel of C-U while still having the amenities of a much larger community.

What’s your favorite local lunch place?

I have a number of local lunch places that I enjoy. The Black Dog has wonderful barbecue and I have a favorite salad at Atties. It always surprises me the number and variety of good restaurants that are available in the downtown area of Champaign Urbana.

A PT/OT prescription is required before you can be scheduled for treatment. Prescriptions can be faxed to 217- 383-3567.

Elizabeth Camp, PT-MHS, CWS, CLT-LANA
Elizabeth Camp, PT-MHS, CWS, CLT-LANA

Elizabeth has been a practicing physical therapist for 30+ years. She has been a certified wound specialist through the American Board of Wound Management for 11 years. She is currently on staff at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, IL providing lymphedema treatment for both primary and secondary lymphedema patients.

Elizabeth provides lymphedema treatment to patients both during and following cancer treatment. She provides care to patients with many different types of cancer related lymphedema including not only breast and gynecologic cancers but also head and neck as well as soft tissue cancers. Additionally she works with the Carle Wound Healing Center providing lymphedema intervention and adjunctive therapies to patients with chronic wounds and/or lymphedema.

Elizabeth has provided professional continuing education for a number of years. She developed and teaches the current “ Wound Care for Lymphedema “course through Klose Training which educates practicing lymphedema therapists how to effectively address wounds associated with lymphedema. She has presented at the Carle- Skin Care Symposium in 2006, 2010 and 2015. She has provided education to multiple support groups/gatherings for cancer survivors in the CU community.

Celebrate Sleep Awareness Week

Sometimes getting a full night’s sleep seems impossible to achieve. No matter the cause – stress, pain, your work schedule, or another reason – if you are not receiving regular quality sleep it can interfere with your health. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says “Insufficient sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions – such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression – which threaten our nation’s health.”

Sleep Awareness Week (March 6-13) gives us an opportunity to leave insufficient sleep behind and get back to the quality sleep that is so vital to our health and wellness. Here are a few ways you can start getting on track to better sleep habits.

Say adios to technology – well before bedtime.

technology and sleep

Smartphones are everywhere and it’s not uncommon to find them creeping into your bedroom. Turn them off. Better than that. Turn them off and keep them in another room. Nix the TV, iPad, laptop, and whatever else has found its way into your resting space. Break the habit and allow yourself to relax on a deep level.  

Establish a routine that is calming and relaxing.

tea time bed timeHumans are habitual creatures. How you wrap up your day can greatly impact the quality of sleep you receive. Finish the day with warm bath or shower, a cup of tea, cool the temperature in your room, and shut out the lights. Establishing a routine can triggers a natural response that tells the body “it’s time for bed.”

Massage. Massage. Massage.

sleep and massageNot surprising, if you’ve been following this blog. Massage is HUGE when it comes to improving your sleep. According to the Mayo Clinic, studies have found massage to be beneficial for insomnia-related stress, as well as:

  • Anxiety
  • Digestive disorders
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headaches
  • Myofascial pain syndrome
  • Paresthesias and nerve pain
  • Soft tissue strains or injuries
  • Sports injuries
  • Temporomandibular joint pain (TMJ)

Massage can not only increase relaxation and lower your fatigue, but it can reduce pain and improve your quality of sleep. Which can also help restore your sleep pattern. With our schedules getting busier and our use of technology increasing, the need for sleep has become more important than ever. Massage is a great way to fulfill that need. In effort to celebrate Sleep Awareness Week, schedule a massage and be on your way to a better night’s sleep.

Strategies for Coping with Caregiver Stress.

What happens when a family member falls ill, and you find yourself taking on the role of caregiver?

There are many circumstances under which we may find ourselves in the role of caregiver for a sick family member. Your life can change overnight, and everything can be thrown in to chaos. Adding to the stress is the fact that you didn’t choose this. If you’re not careful, it can take a toll on your health and wellbeing. How can you deal with the stress and exhaustion that comes with filling this very demanding role? Continue reading “Strategies for Coping with Caregiver Stress.”

Getting Things Done

It’s AmeriCorps week, and that reminds me of one of the reasons I love giving massages.  I was in the Pittsburgh Health Corps from the fall of 2005 through the summer of 2006, serving for an organization that ran a free clinic in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  While there, I was able to assist uninsured folks to access free prescription medications.  I was also able to help in the clean-up from Hurricane Katrina. AmeriCorps taught me that I love “getting things done” and making a difference in people’s lives.  Ever since I ended my term of service with AmeriCorps, I’ve been searching for some way to contribute to the world. Massage has given me this. There is something satisfying about using your hands to do something, actually seeing or feeling the effect you are having.  From gutting houses in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to giving a working mom 60 minutes where she can just relax – I love feeling like I am doing something productive with my time. 

So, in honor of AmeriCorps week, I ask that you take a few hours of your time to volunteer.  Help out at a local food bank, hospital, or nursing home. And if you live in Champaign, Illinois, may I suggest the Champaign County Humane Society. You’ll help your community, and you’ll meet new people, which is always a good thing.

Hello World

Putting myself out here like this is kind of scary for me.  I’m very shy, and writing this blog is way out of my comfort zone.  But then I think back to the times when I’ve ventured out, and not only did nothing bad happen, usually something great happens.  I learn, I grow. So here goes nothing. Welcome to my blog. 

What will I write about?  I have a few ideas. I’m currently a Massage Therapy student, so I’ll be writing about massage and massage-related stuff.  I’ll probably write about other stuff too. Also, I’m a bit of a procrastinator, so if I go too long between posts, feel free to light a fire under me.