Many factors impact breast cancer recovery, but did you know physical therapy was one of them? On November 14, 2020, Dr. Chryston Fadeyi and Dr. NaPortia Mitchell from Refined Therapy & Wellness joined our CEO and President, Ann-Marie Appiah Swatson, during an Instagram Live to give us all the insight on how therapy contributes to recovery. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this conversation came about when Refined Therapy & Wellness posted several facts on Instagram, showing how the body is affected by cancer-related fatigue, surgery, chemotherapy/tamoxifen, and radiation.
To kick off the live discussion, Dr. Fadeyi shared the story of how their wellness journey began while the two were completing their Physical Therapy program together. She opened up about her family’s history of breast cancer and how it is still impacting her mom’s body years after becoming a Thriver. Because of this, her research and interest in the matter became personal. Dr. Mitchell shared her same passion and concern, so together, they worked to form their practice.
There’s often a misconception that therapy is only necessary for rehabilitation after an injury; however, Dr. Mitchell explained how the “total body treatment” is beneficial in many more ways. When speaking on breast cancer-related treatments, she stated, “If you have reconstruction, they’ve cut your abdominal muscles, so now you have core weakness.” Their goal is to teach patients that it goes beyond one area – each portion of our body impacts us entirely.
While physical therapy is a tool used for rehab, Dr. Mitchell informed us that therapists also use it to “pre-hab” and prevent patients from damaging other areas of their bodies. Therapists also recommend doing “pre-hab” to strengthen the muscles before they get damaged. If they get damaged through surgery, “pre-hab” has allowed them to be in a much better place for therapy. Dr. Mitchell shared the benefits of being fully prepared – mentally, emotionally, and physically – for a greater chance to thrive during medical treatments. Your therapy performance can create a better outcome; therefore, the two work with patients to ensure they are equipped.
“One of our missions is ‘proactive.’ Don’t let it be an afterthought.” – Dr. Fadeyi
Often, patients do not realize that physical therapy is an option for various conditions. Refined Therapy & Wellness has made it their mission to teach others how to advocate for themselves and ask for therapy when seeking treatment. As we continued our chat, we learned that medical doctors are often focused on physical systems such as heart rate, lung response, etc. In contrast, therapists focus on the body’s response – physically and mentally. While a medical doctor is basing their treatment plan on survival and eliminating cancer, therapists work with patients to address the body’s functions that keep the patient going even after beating cancer. Taking on a full-body healing approach helps them better prepare patients for what to expect during and after surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, reconstruction, and other procedures.
“We just want to improve your overall quality of life. Quality of life MATTERS.” – Dr. Mitchell
When asked about the treatment steps of a breast cancer patient going through the average cycle of procedures, Dr. Fadeyi suggested that therapists likely come into the picture after a treatment plan was established and chemotherapy has begun. One of the first things many cancer patients experience is cancer-related fatigue when they notice unusual tiredness and sometimes weight loss. The issue that arises is that when patients are experiencing this fatigue, it can be tough completing therapy routines. However, therapists use exercise to give patients an adrenaline boost and release hormones to help them feel better. Starting the therapy process sooner helps combat fatigue with an energy boost and better understand what the journey will look like for your entire body. “We are sitting down with you. We are talking to you. We are hearing you,” stated Dr. Fadeyi as she outlined the typical therapy session.
Some of the common side effects of breast cancer include inflammation from the surgery, weight gain from certain drugs, scar tissue development, and tissue change due to radiation. However, everyone’s recovery journey is different. Refined Therapy & Wellness offers individualized therapy options and believes it is essential to tailor therapy practices to the individual based on their needs. Their approach is to gather every detail from how a patient discovered they had breast cancer to where they are mentally in the process.
As the conversation progressed, we continued to dive into how other life factors can impact the human body while in recovery. A considerable part of the journey is to address every aspect of your life, including stressful events that could potentially lead to physical pain. The therapists described how the body could relieve the pains from surgeries and other procedures that caused trauma. This stress can cause even a cancer Thriver to still react to discomfort as they remember that time. During their sessions, the therapists work to get their patients to train their minds to eliminate the trigger recalls causing them pain.
“Your body manifests your stresses. Your body manifests your mental state of mind.” – Dr. Fadeyi
As the ladies wrapped up the discussion, the therapists were asked about the barriers in medicine, leading to more people getting therapy after the fact instead of during their treatment process to better help with recovery. Dr. Mitchell gave insight into the improvement that needs to happen regarding the communication between therapists, medical doctors, and patients. The goal is to communicate better about their expertise and capabilities beyond what is typically asked of them: rehabbing backs, shoulders, hips, etc. Physical therapists are also doctors and are trained to take a multidisciplinary approach to treat the full body’s functionality. Refined Therapy & Wellness specifically incorporated the wellness aspect to their practice to ensure that patients are left feeling whole again.
“A doctor’s medicine is surgery, medication, and so forth. Our medicine is exercise.” – Dr. Mitchell
To learn more about Refined Therapy & Wellness and their services, please visit www.refinedtherapy.com. You can also keep up with Dr. Chryston Fadeyi and Dr. NaPortia Mitchell by following them on Instagram.