Buddy Check 3: Local donation provides more help for Lymphedema patients

Published: Feb. 3, 2023 at 4:12 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 3, 2023 at 5:49 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) -Buddy Check 3 is a partnership between KY3, The Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks, and Mercy and CoxHealth Hospitals. Those organizations work continually to care for people with breast cancer. And so do local families.

Recently, two sisters honored their mom with a donation to BCFO to help a very specific need among some breast cancer patients in the Ozarks. Brianna Hughes’ says her mom was a warrior.

Looking back at pictures, Brianna points at one and says, “I love this photo because she is worshipping even in the midst of chemo.”

Connie Cunningham was diagnosed three times with breast cancer over the course of ten years. But with the help of both her daughters, she beat it twice. And she became well aware of the challenges that can come with having lymph nodes removed along with the breast cancer.

“She started having issues with lymphedema, insurance and stuff, and it was really difficult to cover expenses,” according to Breanna.

Specifically, she’s talking about the expenses for compression garments that help manage lymphedema. Taryn Arens is a Certified Lymphedema Therapist for Mercy Hospital.

She said, “Medicare and Medicaid typically will not cover, they’ll deny it.”

Many private insurance companies deny the garments too, even though a sleeve or a glove-like these are critical to a patient’s mobility and pain management.

According to Taryn, “Once you have lymphedema, it’s not something that’s gonna go away. It may come and go through your lifetime, but it’s there. Wearing that garment daily from the time you’re up until bed is what we tell patients, some even have nighttime garments they wear...that’s the first line of defense to keep it from getting worse.”

Because the garments are so important, Taryn routinely refers patients like Shelly Davis to the Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks, when they can’t get what they need from insurance companies.

Shelly says, “for me, it’s around my back and works in conjunction with the one on the sleeve and the one on my hand.” And Shelly really needed this particular compression garment to treat the lymphedema in her back.

“This goes all the way around nice and tight, it does that job to move that fluid that we’re talking about to compress and move that fluid from the back of my shoulder blade,” according to Shelly.

BCFO came through for her and for many other lymphedema patients; just like BCFO helped Brianna’s mom with her compression garments. That’s why Brianna and her sister, Hannah Hughes have made a substantial donation to BCFO specifically to supply more of the garments to patients in need.

Brianna says, “she would be very touched to know that her story and everything that she went through could help other people. I know that is exactly what she would want.”

Sadly, Brianna and her sister Hannah lost their mom this past October, to a third round of breast cancer. But Connie Cunningham’s legacy of helping people will continue through her daughters and BCFO. As always, don’t forget to sign up for Buddy Check 3 right here.

To report a correction or typo, please email digitalnews@ky3.com