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Kentucky CancerLink working to relieve burdens cancer patients may experience

Published: Aug. 27, 2021 at 5:10 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - When someone is diagnosed with cancer there is a lot of worry about what is next and many times there is a huge worry about the cost of treatment that can come with fighting their battle.

For some, breast cancer patients, lymphedema can add to that burden. In his Link to Hope story, we look into how Kentucky CancerLink aims to provide needed resources to take some of that worry away.

Youlanda Chisley knows how important it is to have a good team around when you are fighting cancer.

“For me it’s brought me closer to family, brought me closer to God, brought me closer to showing my strength how I can survive,” said Youlanda Chisley.

Last November, in the middle of a pandemic the 40-year-old mother was diagnosed with stage three ductal breast cancer.

“I had been dealing with it through COVID, like something going on, I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know the severity of it,” said Chisley.

Chisley says she got her mind right, made a plan of attack and set out to beat cancer.

She had chemotherapy, a double mastectomy and eventually radiation.

But there was something else Chisley and many other breast cancer patients face-- lymphedema.

“So lymphedema is an abnormal accumulation of lymphatic fluid that presents as swelling,” said Susan Gordon, an occupational therapist.

Gordon specializes in oncology rehab at Baptist Health Lexington. She works with patients like Chisley in managing this painful and sometimes challenging part of breast cancer.

“We treat that with manual lymphatic drainage which is like a lymphatic massage, compression garments which are essential, exercise which is always really important and then skin care,” said Gordon.

Those compression garments can be expensive, but that is where Kentucky CancerLink comes in.

Kentucky CancerLink understands the cost of these types of items can be a barrier to some.

“They have so many resources that I think a lot of patients don’t even know about, or feel like they shouldn’t use it, anything from scarves to wigs, to bras. It is a great, great resource,” said Chisley.

It was a link to hope that helped Chisley keep up the fight, one that for now, she is winning.

“Keep your faith, keep true to you,” said Chisley.

Chisley is a fighter—on top of being diagnosed with breast cancer, she has also battled COVID-19.

She beat COVID and said right now, there is no sign of any active cancer.

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