A guest blog post by Allison Brandt Anbari, Ph.D., R.N., 2018 LE&RN/Lymph Notes Therapist Scholarship Award Winner.
What made you choose a career in therapy?
I became a registered nurse in 2004 and I completed my Ph.D. in Nursing in May 2017. I now work as an Assistant Research Professor at the Sinclair School of Nursing at the University of Missouri. I have chosen this career path not only because of the hands-on work and flexibility but also because of the impact I can make on our health and well-being. I have worked in many settings and all over the U.S. The opportunity to become a certified lymphedema therapist is the next step, as I aim to impact the lives of those living with lymphedema through meaningful research that translates easily to practice.
Why have you chosen to make lymphedema therapy a focus in your work?
I finished treatment for breast cancer in January 2018. I do not remember if my knowledge of my risk for secondary lymphedema was told to me at that time or if I was recalling what little I knew from nursing school. I know that I remain at a lifetime risk for developing this potentially debilitating and chronic condition. But what about those women who do not know this? I see an opportunity for change.
Through my mentorship with Dr. Jane Armer at the Sinclair School of Nursing, I have learned there is much room for improvement in our approaches to prospective surveillance of those at-risk for developing lymphedema. I have also learned there are improvements to be made in the lives of those currently living with lymphedema. I plan to contribute to these improvements through my certification as a lymphedema therapist and as a nurse researcher.
How will this LE&RN scholarship help you to help your patients?
Becoming a certified lymphedema therapist will help me advocate for the participants I plan to include in my research. I know that understanding the finer details of therapy and being able to perform those specialized skills will improve my ability to appreciate what my research participants must endure as they aim for the best quality of life possible. I know there is a lymphedema language that I should become more fluent in as I pursue this important area of research. Learning the language and techniques of lymphedema therapy will also help me while I am communicating my study results with other therapists and care providers.
What are your hopes for the future, for yourself, your patients, and for the field of lymphedema and lymphatic disease treatment?
I hope to become an advocate for those living with lymphedema by allowing their voices to be heard in my work. I know improvements in the way we educate patients about risk-reduction and self-management can be made through rigorous and meaningful research. I also don’t think we should rule out the many ways technology may be able to help us make that happen.
I hope that the field of lymphedema and lymphatic disease treatment will continue to make advances as we learn more about the lymphatic system and its nuances. I am hopeful that with continued advances we can further reduce secondary lymphedemas and potentially cure primary lymphedema.