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June 24, 2015
A Cancer Survivor’s Experience with Wound Care Therapy

The first time I heard the words “wound care” was from my plastic surgeon. When he said it, I had no idea what he was actually talking about and nor did I want to. I said, “I’ll take care of this myself.” But after a few months of doing everything right, my problem just got worse, and I knew I had to do something. I was a mess.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer and opted to have both breasts removed. After multiple reconstruction surgeries, my body would not heal, and it rejected all attempts. I was left with a very large opening on my right side. My doctor told me it would be best to leave the wound open so it would heal faster, and after my chemotherapy and radiation treatments, we would try reconstruction again.

When I went through radiation, with my chest wall open, I was burned to the point of blistering. There was no way of healing this on my own.

The first day I went to The Wound Care Center at Harrington I was terrified, but that didn’t last long. Everyone was very friendly and personable. They talked to me like we were friends, not like I needed a college degree to understand what they were saying.

I won’t lie: my first day of treatment, I was really freaked out. It’s the “not knowing” that’s the scariest I guess, just like everything else in life. But the staff was accommodating. My best friend was allowed to come in and stay with me as long as I needed him—that was huge in my world!

After a week or so of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy, it became very routine—every day, same place, same time. Kind of redundant, but this was something I had to do.

I met with a doctor and a nurse once a week for measurements, updates, and instructions if needed. I conversed regularly with the girls up front to check in, as well as to the staff in the room, who are making sure your comfort level is being met.

After 40 HBO treatments, I was healed enough to have yet another surgery to try and close this nasty, wide open wound. The day after my surgery, I went for 10 more treatments—and it worked!

Like everything else in life, there is good with the bad. I did have some side effects, the most serious had to do with my eyesight, but I think that’s finally going in the right direction.

If anyone ever asks me my opinion on The Wound Care Center at Harrington or hyperbaric oxygen therapy, I will definitely tell them to do it, it works! I wish I had started it sooner.

Submitted by Norma, a Fiskdale resident, Breast Cancer survivor, and Wound Care Center patient