Lymphedema-relieving surgery keeps triathlete in the race

On Oct. 28, Mary Lindimore crossed the finish line of the IRONMAN Waco 70.3 triathlon. Alongside her was Cheryl Pfennig, the MD Anderson advanced practice registered nurse who helped her get there. Both participants biked 56 miles and ran 13.1 miles during the race. The swim portion was cancelled due to bad weather. “I was nervous about the race, but excited to cheer Mary on,” Pfennig says. “She’s been a big inspiration to me. We’ve inspired each other.” Mary has overcome three different types of breast cancer and debilitating lymphedema, a common cancer treatment side effect that causes blockages in the lymphatic system and leads to swelling and pain. But a surgery called a lymph node transfer helped alleviate the swelling lymphedema had caused in her left arm. “I couldn’t have done this race without the surgery,” Mary says. “It’s a real gift, and MD Anderson gave that to me.”  Second opinion brings new hope for lymphedema relief Mary developed lymphedema in 2007, during her first round of treatment for HER-2+ breast cancer. Her arm was so swollen she had to buy specially made clothing. Nothing fit, and nothing made it better, not even traditional treatments like wraps and massages. “No one could do anything about it,” Mary says. That is, until she came to MD Anderson. In 2016, when Mary was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time, she and her husband decided to seek a second opinion at MD Anderson. They’d heard it was the best. On MD Anderson’s website, Mary found information on lymphedema treatment. She called and asked to see a specialist about that, too....