One of the worst words that someone can hear is “You have cancer”. Nearly every family we know has had to deal with a family member or themselves who have been diagnosed. I have lost both my parents and my brother to cancer. I have supported other friends and family as they have struggled through the various treatments that ultimately allowed them to beat cancer. From the time of diagnosis through the completion of care, the entire focus is on surviving the disease. As well it should be. But what about quality of life once you have heard those words “You are cancer free.” There can be many quality of life issues following all the interventions that allowed someone to be a survivor.
Not enough emphasis has been put on addressing pain, fatigue, weakness, emotional distress or any of the many consequences of treatment. Fortunately there are many services available to help with just this. This could be related to nutritional, psychological, and physical deficits. However, these services may or may not be offered to every patient and therefore you would have to seek them out for yourself. This is a result of our compartmentalized health care system. Everyone is focused on their area of expertise and when cancer is involved, the main focus is on curing and surviving. But to all of those who are survivors, know that your quality of life matters.
In my area of expertise I have had the distinct pleasure to help restore some of this quality of life for my patients. Having seen my own immediate family members struggle with issues that were a consequence of the treatment therapies they received opened my eyes to how significantly their daily life was impacted. Some areas of treatment focus on restoring your strength, endurance, and ability to be mobile. Lesser known treatments through physical therapy are those that address the changes that have occurred with bowel, bladder, and sexual function. These in particular are very difficult for people to discuss with their health care providers due to embarrassment or difficulty in discussing such intimate bodily functions that no longer function properly. Your health care provider may not bring this up so you will have to be your own advocate and broach the subject of your symptoms yourself. And if they don’t know exactly where to refer, don’t be frustrated. There are many resources available on line which can at least help guide you in the right direction.
Outside of physical therapy interventions are those that address nutrition and mental health issues. It’s not just about surviving. It is about living the fullest, healthiest and happiest life that you can. Cancer takes a lot from you but don’t let it take your quality of life. Reach out. There are many health care providers eager to help you ease back into your post-cancer life.
Susan earned her Physical Therapy degree from the University of Louisville and holds a bachelor’s degree from Northern Kentucky University and a master’s from the University of North Carolina- Greensboro. She has been practicing in the Louisville area since 1997. In addition to owning her own practice since 2001, Susan is an active member with the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), Kentucky Physical Therapy Association, National Women’s Health Section Member, Private Practice Section of the APTA, International Pelvic Pain Society, International Continence Society, and the International Children’s Continence Society.
Susan has spent her entire career focusing on research and clinical practice in the areas of pelvic health for women, men and children and women’s health issues. This coupled with a specialization in spine has allowed her to grow her clinical skills to become a recognized leader in the Greater Louisville area for the diagnosis and treatment of these conditions.
On a daily basis, Susan strives to create an environment at Dunn Physical Therapy where patients feel they are individuals receiving one-on-one care and that they feel empowered with the knowledge to be an active partner in their care with their clinician. She subscribes to the philosophy that your patients “don’t care what you know until they know that you care.” Today’s healthcare environment is forever changing and not always for the better. But at Dunn Physical Therapy, Susan and her team work every day to make sure that every patient that walks through our doors will know that we care.
Susan and her staff collectively have more experience and training than any other facility in the Greater Louisville area in their areas of specialization and she is honored to be the head of, and a part of the Dunn Physical Therapy team.
In her free time Susan enjoys time with her husband, children and dog especially if that involves camping trips, running or travel.