Christina Paxton's Story

Each year around 7,500 patients visit the Breast and Endocrine Clinic at Flinders.

Among them is Christina - a mum of three young children who underwent a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation following her breast cancer diagnosis.

“The diagnosis was the stuff of nightmares and just a huge shock…but the breast care nurses at Flinders do the most amazing job and were such a great support for me.”

Christina is now a passionate advocate for improving care and research for women with breast cancer – particularly those who go on to develop breast-cancer related lymphedema.

While pleasingly she’s now in remission, Christina is one of an unfortunate number of patients who go on to develop breast cancer-related lymphoedema, which occurs when lymph nodes are removed or damaged during cancer surgery or radiotherapy.

The condition causes swelling and discomfort in the arm, breast or hand, and can be painful and have wide ranging impacts on quality of life.

Sadly, there is no known cure for lymphoedema. But early diagnosis and treatment make it easier to manage.  To help with this, it is recommended that patients have ‘baseline’ measurements of their arm taken before surgery and treatment, and regularly afterwards to detect any changes.  This can be done using a SOZO machine which gives a precise snapshot of tissue composition and fluid build-up in the limb.

Thanks to our wonderful Dry July supporters in 2023, together we raised over $18,000 to purchase a SOZO machine for the Breast and Endocrine Clinic at Flinders. This will give patients affected by breast cancer the best chance of detecting lymphoedema early, so treatment can start as soon as possible to stop the condition from progressing.

“Lymphoedema can occur any time after surgery, and it may even begin several years after surgery,” explains Amanda Jones, Advanced Nurse Consultant in Flinders Medical Centre’s Breast and Endocrine Clinic.

“Often lymphoedema presents right at a time when people are trying to move on from their acute cancer treatment and regain their quality of life, and this can have a huge impact on their emotional wellbeing as well as their physical wellbeing.

“This early detection using the SOZO machine allows treatment to begin proactively to potentially slow progression and help reduce long-term physical and functional impacts, including reducing swelling and preventing infections.”