Lymphedema-Marlene Stories-Ceremony
Marlene's Ceremony

Marlene and her daughter Cecelia (lives with Marlene on the reservation) are at the tribal clinic. Marlene is getting a gentle massage to help drain the extra fluids trapped in her arm. Patty, the Nurse Practitioner (NP) at the clinic who has worked with a lot of breast cancer patients has asked Sharon (Marlene's daughter who is a nurse at the clinic) to meet with her briefly.

Patty: Well, Marlene looks pretty good, but that arm swelled up pretty fast. I think she's going to do pretty well. But I want you to review the list of things she cannot do with that arm and make certain you understand everything or if you have any questions.

Sharon reads the list carefully.

Sharon: No, I think it is very clear. I will meet with the rest of the family and go through the list so that we all know what we need to do to help protect her. She won't like some of the things. You know she still likes to bring in wood for the fire in the house. She also helps gather the wood for ceremony.

Patty: Well, from now on, when she wants to help gather the wood, she needs to wear protective long sleeves and carry a basket in her good arm to put the wood in. She cannot hold it in her arms any more because she is likely to get a splinter. She is at high risk for an infection; even when her arm is not swollen. An infection will set up another episode of the lymphedema.

Sharon: Okay, I'll explain that to the family. We can all help.

Patty: Good. Now, I know your mom does some ceremony that includes cutting the skin. From now on, that can only be done on other parts of the body, but not on this arm. You can tell the healer and if wants to know more about how to protect her, just ask him to drop by the clinic or to call me and I'll go by his house to talk with him.

Sharon: Sure. He's at the gathering and I can talk with him if we are able to go back to it tonight.

Patty: Great. And if I see him tonight, I'll also let him know I'm there and available to talk with him.

Sharon: Thanks.

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