To soothe the pain caused by the side effects of breast cancer, I am accompanied by the Breast Physio Network (RKS) for several years now. These specialized physiotherapists receive specific training and are of great help to patients with this disease. I wanted to give the floor to the one who has been following me for more than a year now, Sabine Cornillet, based in Cuges-les-Pins in the Bouches-du-Rhône (France).
What is the Breast Physio Network?
Sabine Cornillet: We are a young association of almost 800 professionals spread throughout France which was created by Dorothée Delecour. This physiotherapist from Bordeaux has noticed, over the years, that surgeons, radiotherapists and oncologists in particular do not really know our work as physiotherapists and vice versa. So she decided to bring us together to build more bridges between us.
And it works?
I would say that, gradually, links are being created between surgeons and physiotherapists, but there is still work to be done. Some doctors still do not prescribe physiotherapy sessions, for example, to patients who suffer from breast cancer, they say they find it useless. These speeches reflect a certain ignorance of our work. Few physicians know, for example, that patient tissues can be prepared preoperatively to facilitate surgery. As specialized physiotherapists, we do a lot of specific training to provide comprehensive care. We go further than traditional lymphatic drainage and joint recovery. We work on scars, pain, edema and postures at the same time. With, each time, a personalized approach to target needs. The goal is also to put the patients back in the seal and ensure that they resume sport little by little.
How is your approach different from that of a “classic” physiotherapist?
Many “classic” physiotherapists do their job very well, but it's true that our specialization allows us to have a more specific, even more adapted approach. Personally, I regularly go to see the operations of a specialist surgeon in Marseille, Doctor Marie Bannier, from the Paoli-Calmettes institute. The fact of seeing her operate makes it possible to understand then why the patients suffer from such or such pain. In the RKS network, we also have discussion groups in which we exchange between professionals when someone is struggling with a problem and we help each other. We also pay great attention to the care of patients, they regularly receive questionnaires to find out if they are satisfied with the care of the RKS physiotherapist who accompanies them.
For me, this support was also psychological. Is this the case all the time?
Most of the time this is indeed the case. During the consultations, the patients tend to indulge a lot and often it breaks down and they cry. We support many women with young children, for example. They have to deal with the illness, the education of the children…, it's not easy even if they are well supported. The first years, I had trouble managing these emotions but today, at 52, it's easier. I lost two very close friends to breast cancer and it has become my leitmotif to help these women, to know how to find the right words… And when our patients tell us that we bring them a lot, it really gives balm to the heart.
How do you view Les Minettes en Goguette?
I find that great! The fact that this project is led by someone who has had breast cancer, who has had to deal with the side effects and the difficulties in getting dressed, makes a big difference. We discussed it a lot together, I saw the outfits, the materials used and I am convinced that it can have a positive influence on the daily lives of our patients.