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After cancer, Stacy Skinner learns to manage lymphedema

Stacy Skinner is a lifelong educator, world traveler and, as of 2019, a breast cancer survivor. Stacy’s lifesaving treatment included breast conservation surgery, the removal of two sentinel lymph nodes and intraoperative radiation therapy — all of which put her at risk for breast cancer-related lymphedema (BCRL).

She underwent routine pre- and post-operative oncology physical therapy, engaged in a series of at-home, progressive exercises and maintained each of her follow-up appointments. She did all of the things she was supposed to. Nevertheless, Stacy still developed Stage 1 lymphedema.

The lymphatic system is a network of organs, tissues and vessels, and is a part of the immune system that guards against infection. Lymphedema occurs when there is a direct or indirect disruption of the lymphatic system in the form of surgery, radiation, injury and any trauma.