Aquilino Cancer Center’s Healing Touch Extends with Specialized Therapy

Barbara Homon, 71, of Derwood, Md., is an inspiration to those she meets. After undergoing treatment for breast cancer in 2009, she developed lymphedema, a common side effect for cancer patients who have lymph nodes removed. She now works diligently to keep her lymphedema well-controlled by receiving regular therapy at the Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical CenterAquilino Cancer Center. After experiencing many aspects of cancer care, she gives the rehabilitation services at the cancer center, which opened in November 2013, two thumbs up.

“I’ve been able to establish relationships with others who share a similar journey…”

“The setting at the Aquilino Cancer Center promotes community among patients and their families,” Homon says. “I’ve been able to establish relationships with others who share a similar journey, and my husband loves the peaceful and inviting waiting area.”

A team from Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland provides expert care to patients in the Aquilino Cancer Center. The specialized therapy can alleviate side effects from cancer treatment, like fatigue, pain, fibrosis and lymphedema.

“Cancer and its treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation, can affect speech, occupational or physical abilities,” explains Jennifer Nulton, OTR/L, CHT, CLT, Homon’s lymphedema therapist. “Rehabilitation helps minimize symptoms and improve quality of life.”

Quality of life is important to Homon, whose cheerful, upbeat nature is contagious. She says the Aquilino Cancer Center’s private rooms and dedicated therapists allow patients to comfortably talk about sensitive topics, like weight gain and how the lymphedema garments make them feel. Services and support groups are also available within the center to meet the emotional and spiritual needs of patients.

Homon’s latest round of therapy proved especially challenging, lasting five months. Yet, through it all, the Aquilino Cancer Center team provided the physical and mental support she needed. “Jennifer kept me settled when I thought we were out of options,” Homon says.

Treating Lymphedema

Lymphedema is a condition where lymph nodes are blocked or damaged, causing arms, legs or other body parts to swell. Some people are born with abnormalities of their lymphatic system. Others may develop lymphedema due to cancer treatment, injury, complications from obesity, circulatory problems or a parasite known as filariasis. There is no cure for lymphedema. The most effective treatment, complete decongestive therapy (CDT), is offered in the Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical CenterAquilino Cancer Center. CDT involves a combination of manual lymph drainage massage, shortstretch compression bandaging, exercise and skin care. During phase one, CDT is performed daily until the reduction of fluid reaches a plateau. Phase two, the maintenance phase, involves self-management and compression garments.