Monday, September 27, 2010

Treating a patient with Breast Cancer

(this daring photo came from this blog -- Musing of a Home Engineer. I know it's racy but I think it's important for people to see images like this so they can not only know the impact of breast cancer but FEEL it. I encourage you to read the post on the blog.

I also encourage you to view my favorite, most inspiring mastectomy photo by clicking here. All I can say is "Wow.")

In Human Dev class we had a case of a woman just referred to occupational therapy from her doctor due to a radical mastectomy (complete breast removal and some muscle, skin and other tissue) as a result of breast cancer. To illustrate how we project our ideas on our clients we had to name her based on our interpretation of the situation. I named her ADORING MOTHER because in the profile she stated that she just wanted to be able to take care of her children and her home. I thought that was interesting because here she is, with breast cancer, recently from surgery, and one of her most pressing concerns is an IADL--taking care of those around her. Wow.

The conversation then went on to describe the things we'd like to know to start our first treatment session, such as

  • how is she dealing with her illness
  • which occupations are most important to her and why
  • how does she see her future
  • does she have hope or does she feel hopeless
  • does she understand lymphedema and other possible effects of breast cancer and mastectomy
  • how is her social support
  • does she understand her current limitations (no lifting her children, heavy things, etc. for awhile)
  • what theoretical approach and assessment tools will we as occupational therapists use to treat her and why
  • what questions do we, as occupational therapists, have about breast cancer, mastectomies, the psychosocial effects, normal cognitive and developmental changes in a woman of her age (40s)
  • where will we find the answers to our questions--what books and other resources
  • many other things I'm too tired to write right now.
The class was really interesting and I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion.

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