Fighting back against the devastating effects of cancer and its treatment
Carolina Gutiérrez, M.D., gently lifts the swollen left hand of Maria Hernandez*, 53, and holds it next to her normal-sized right hand. Comparing the two, she carefully presses her fingers into her patient’s palm, then wrist, forearm, upper arm, shoulder and neck.
“Un dolor?” she questions as she moves methodically up Hernandez’s arm.
“Sí” responds Hernandez, a native of Mexico visiting Gutiérrez at TIRR Memorial Hermann’s cancer rehabilitation clinic. Her advanced breast cancer, which has metastasized throughout her body, is causing her pain in her arm and neck. Gutiérrez makes a quick note in Hernandez’s chart and prescribes a new medication to better target the pain.
Gutiérrez continues her exam, rotating Hernandez’s arm and lifting her legs. Hernandez’s cancer is terminal, but Gutiérrez is determined to help her patient feel better and as independent as possible in her final days.
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