I am a physical therapist certified in breast cancer rehab. Jersey City, NJ. I found Humanly via social media and I instantly knew this would be an amazingly supportive & safe place for my patients.
Two years ago, I began the process of specializing in oncology rehabilitation after treating a breast cancer survivor named Abby. Abby was two years post-operative from a DIEP procedure and she was referred to physical therapy because she was reporting lingering pain in her arm and chest wall as well as range of motion limitations. Her previous medical history contained failed surgeries (eventually leading to a DIEP flap), four rounds of chemotherapy and twelve sessions of radiation. After interviewing her, I wasn't sure that I was best suited to help her; I had very little experience treating patients with such an extensive oncological history and I was afraid I wouldn’t know how to answer any cancer specific questions (narrow-mindedly). For the next week, I searched for an oncology clinic or specialist I could refer out to but to my surprise there were very few clinics and the distance Abby would need to travel was burdensome. So, we began our treatment sessions together. Every week I focused on treating her limited range of motion and strength deficits, I reached out to mentors for additional treatment ideas and I researched the answers to questions she had asked about chemotherapies, etc. As I found myself becoming more knowledgeable and my treatments becoming more informed and purposeful, I was also becoming increasingly disheartened. This community of patients was grossly underserved. Why did it take two years for Abby to be referred to PT and why weren’t more therapists certified or specialized? Abby improved quickly though, I can happily report her symptoms decreased over the three-month treatment period and her improved strength made it easier for her to keep up with her 10-year-old son; one of her goals. Thankfully, referrals to physical therapy for oncological patients have steadily increased due in large part to patient advocacy. I loved working with Abby so much so that I began looking into certifications; specifically, breast cancer. Over the past year, I have been invited into the beautiful lives of many patients currently undergoing or recovering from treatments for various types of cancer. My work with this population can be heavy and emotional but the results are more uplifting and rewarding than you can imagine. My patients continue to inspire me every day and I applaud all those who consistently support them because recovery requires an exceptionally dedicated team. My initial exposures to cancer began before I was a therapist, too often through family members and close family friends. I have celebrated the joy of remission, dealt with the unspeakable pain of great loss and witnessed the exhaustive fight from the point of diagnosis, through months of treatments and years of physical and emotional recovery. I hope to be a resource for this great community as I look to continue advocating for my family, friends and community. Together we can build the foundations for a more supportive and comprehensive recovery.