Nashville asst DA to undergo revolutionary lymphedema surgery - Tucson News Now

Nashville assistant DA to undergo revolutionary lymphedema surgery

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

A successful criminal prosecutor known for thorough work on violent cases has had a tumultuous year battling breast cancer, and she is now due to undergo surgery for another difficult condition.

It's a surgery that could help change the quality of life for hundreds, if not thousands, of women.

"I am officially, today, a one-year cancer survivor," said Assistant Davidson County District Attorney Pam Anderson.

She endured breast cancer surgery, chemotherapy and 33 rounds of radiation.

"I was as bald as a cueball, but my hair started growing back, and I thought I was done with all this. I was back working and then, all of a sudden, I developed lymphedema and that brought back all the ghosts," she said.

Lymphedema happens to about 20 percent of women who have had their lymph nodes surgically removed during breast cancer surgery, preventing lymph fluid from properly draining.

"Sometimes people have heard of the term 'elephantitis,' and that's basically what it is," Anderson said.

And anything can trigger it, from a mosquito bite to a hot shower, to a sporting event.

"When I first had this, I went to a Titans game and just the walk from the car to the stadium in the hot sun, my hand started swelling up like a bee had stung me, and I was having an allergic reaction," Anderson said.

The standard treatment is massage therapy and bandaging up to three times a week.

But it's hard to be a district attorney with three hours of weekday therapy, so Anderson decided there must be something else, even if her Nashville doctors said there wasn't.

"I've had to knock on doors, ask questions and investigate. And that's how I stumbled upon this," she said.

Dr. David Chang, the leading lymphedema surgeon in the country, currently at the University of Chicago, has received a huge federal grant to train other doctors in lymphatic covenular bypass surgery.

It's a surgery that connects microscopic lymphatic fluid passages with other veins. It requires two to seven minor cuts and then four hours of tedious but mildly invasive surgery.

Chang claims success rates from 75 to 90 percent.

"It's fancy 'roto-rooter.' It's basically a bypass around the faulty pumping system," Anderson said.

And the surgery isn't experimental. While rare, it's a mainstream surgery, and Anderson said she couldn't believe it isn't better known.

"We are in this age of breast cancer awareness, and it's all about surviving. And, believe me, I am so grateful, because I know it could be worse. But at some point you get tired of being the poster," she said.

The one thing Anderson said she looks forward to the most is wearing her wedding ring again. She should be able to do that after her surgery, scheduled for Dec. 10.

To see more about Chang's surgery, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35JlSdsDzbU.

Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

  • Local newsMore>>

  • Ashes stolen from front porch of midtown home

    Ashes stolen from front porch of midtown home

    Saturday, December 16 2017 12:27 AM EST2017-12-16 05:27:39 GMT
    (Source: Tucson News Now)(Source: Tucson News Now)

    The postal inspection service is offering up a pretty hefty reward after a package was stolen from a Tucson woman's doorstep. This wasn't a Christmas present, it was something much more precious, a father's ashes. 

    The postal inspection service is offering up a pretty hefty reward after a package was stolen from a Tucson woman's doorstep. This wasn't a Christmas present, it was something much more precious, a father's ashes. 

  • BREAKING

    TIME TO GO? What to do, not do when snow falls on Mount Lemmon

    TIME TO GO? What to do, not do when snow falls on Mount Lemmon

    Friday, December 15 2017 11:59 PM EST2017-12-16 04:59:58 GMT
    (Source: Tucson News Now)(Source: Tucson News Now)

    While most of the Tucson area is getting wet, Mount Lemmon may see some snow this weekend.

    While most of the Tucson area is getting wet, Mount Lemmon may see some snow this weekend.

  • BREAKING

    ACTION DAY: Rain, mountain snow coming to southern Arizona

    ACTION DAY: Rain, mountain snow coming to southern Arizona

    Friday, December 15 2017 11:30 PM EST2017-12-16 04:30:49 GMT

    The KOLD News 13 weather team has called a First Alert Action Day as rain and mountain snow are expected to hit southern Arizona Sunday.

    The KOLD News 13 weather team has called a First Alert Action Day as rain and mountain snow are expected to hit southern Arizona Sunday.

Powered by Frankly