In January, the Florida Breast Cancer Foundation (FBCF) awarded two $10,000 Direct Service Grants to benefit UF Health proton therapy breast cancer patients in Jacksonville and Gainesville. Both projects were designed by a UF Health Proton Therapy Institute team led by Associate Professor Julie Bradley, MD (shown right).
Lymphedema: Compress to Regress
The patient population served by UF Health is more likely to have breast cancer diagnosed in advanced stages due to difficulties accessing care, and many patients who have undergone surgery or radiation for breast cancer are at risk for swelling of the arm, called lymphedema.
Lymphedema can be treated with physical therapy, massage, compression garments, and pneumatic compression pumps. In addition, the regular use of a sleeve can reduce arm swelling for those with diagnosed lymphedema or subclinical lymphedema. The chance of reversing and managing lymphedema is best achieved when diagnosed early or in the subclinical phase.
After radiation, lymphedema can also develop in the irradiated breast. Massage of the breast can improve this symptom, but the lymphedema can be refractory to massage in some women. Arm compression improves arm lymphedema, and a compression bra can improve breast lymphedema.
Medicaid does not cover medical devices for patients, including compression sleeves and compression bras, and out-of-pocket costs can be prohibitive for some patients. The FBCF Lymphedema: Compress to Regress grant will assist patients who are struggling with lymphedema, which is often a chronic condition requiring ongoing care and maintenance after the active cancer therapy ends.
Vehicles and Veggies for Vitality
During radiation, nutrition plays a vital role in aiding the body’s healing from daily treatments. After radiation, it continues to be critical to the recovery of normal tissue. In fact, a better breast cancer prognosis has been linked to healthy body weight and good nutrition and might improve overall survival.
Transportation to daily radiation therapy and nutrition education with associated food expenses are two primary challenges for UF Health proton therapy breast cancer patients. The FBCF Vehicles and Veggies for Vitality grant will be used to help eligible breast cancer patients with transportation expenses related to radiotherapy and other medical appointments as well as grocery stores.
In addition, the grant will provide eligible patients with weekly home delivery of seasonal fruits and vegetables for two months using a local farm-to-table business, and will include three to four recipes created by nutritionists in collaboration with UF radiation oncologists.
For more information about FBCF Direct Service Grants, visit the Florida Breast Cancer Foundation website.