By ALESHA CADET
Tribune Features Reporter
WITH the aim of helping to minimise the negative effects of cancer treatments such as nausea, fatigue, decreased appetite, and the wish to improve the quality of life for patients, a local entity has started a cancer rehab initiative here in the Bahamas.
Offered by the Paramount Rehabilitation and Fitness Centre, the goal is to help as many people as possible who are living with cancer and those in remission to live their best lives; to allow them to do what they enjoy and maintain their independence.
As a healthcare professional trained in the area of cancer rehabilitation, Dr Felicia Adderley of Paramount Rehabilitation and Fitness Centre said it is her responsibility to recognise impairments, set goals and make a plan to help individuals meet those goals in an effort to improve their quality of life. This can include exercise prescription, manual lymph drainage, prescription of assistive devices and patient education.
“Cancer rehabilitation came about first in the United States, because with earlier detection and better treatment options, more people are surviving cancer. There are approximately 12 million survivors in the US. Here in the Bahamas, we have a large portion of our population being diagnosed with cancer. In fact, the Bahamas is in the top 20 countries for cases of breast cancer being diagnosed. That’s a lot of people that need help and I would like to help as many of them as I can get the most out of their lives,” said Dr Adderley.
She said cancer survivors and those currently undergoing treatment can take control of their lives, their futures and fight back. Due to high incidences of cancer cases here in the Bahamas, she believes this means there are a lot of people living with impairments when they don’t have to.
“I would like to see cancer rehab become a part of the treatment plan for the individual diagnosed with cancer. It would be great if cancer rehab becomes a logical part of the individualised care plan and that there was a true multidisciplinary approach to caring for the patient, including the oncologist, social worker, plastic surgeon (if necessary), physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist (as needed) and psychiatrist (as needed),” said Dr Adderley.
Sharing her personal thoughts on the cancer cases in the Bahamas, Dr Adderley said citizens of this country are being ravaged by the brutal disease, and everyone must do their part in prevention by exercising more, consuming less alcohol and getting screenings for specific cancers at the appropriate ages.
“One out of ten women in the Bahamas gets breast cancer. It works out to about nine percent of Bahamian women that have breast cancer. It is important not to ignore the signs. If something is out of the ordinary with your body’s function or appearance, seek out your physician,” she said. “Don’t wait. As simple as that is, it could mean the difference between living and dying.”
As education is key for her, Dr Adderley’s plan going forward is to continue educating the public by being present at health fairs, speaking on different forums such as popular radio shows to raise awareness of the condition itself and ways to help combat its negative side effects. She said prevention is also another important message to get out to the public.