1. Three times Phil McNulty battled throat cancer. He won each time, but in the process lost his voice.

    “They were doing very massive radiation back then and it was so massive that I really couldn’t swallow for like three years,” says McNulty.

    His story is painfully familiar. Speech therapist Stacey Brill works with people like McNulty- helping them eat, drink and speak. The sooner they start, the better their chances.

    “We’ve had many patients referred to us 10 years post chemo and radiation. Many of them still have a feeding tube in. So imagine living your life with feeding tube for all of those years when potentially you may have not had to,” says Stacey Brill, speech therapist with Lee Memorial Health System.

    The road to swallow therapy wasn’t well paved. Many patients never heard of it. Something Brill hopes to change.

    “Listening to the cancer patient and family members as to what was missing and feeling out some input from some physicians we were able to put together and head and neck cancer pathway,” says Brill.

    Here’s how the pathway works: when someone gets a diagnosis, they can work with a cancer navigator, a Lee Memorial Health System specialist, who will guide them to specialists and help set appointments, one of which will be with a speech therapist.

    “As soon as we’re able to identify they’re having difficulty swallowing we go ahead and start them in swallow therapy so we can maintain a goal of oral intake throughout the course of their chemo and radiation,” says Brill.

    Some patients will have temporary swallowing issues, others permanent. Therapy can strengthen or retrain the throat muscles. Using exercises and electrical stimulation, it made a world of difference to McNulty.

    “The more you know about your problem and how you can help yourself, that’s really important to recover or just to start functioning again,” says McNulty.

    View More Health Matters video segments at leememorial.org/healthmatters/

    Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we've been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries.

    Visit leememorial.org

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  2. Diabetic Pat Schulkins knew the importance of taking care of her feet. But a tiny ulcer almost slipped by her.

    “I didn’t notice it was there until I was putting cream on my foot. I felt something and looked at it in the mirror,” says Pat Schulkins.

    People with diabetes are prone to foot problems. The disease reduces blood flow to the extremities making it hard to heal injuries. It also causes nerve damage, so patients may not feel their feet.

    “When you have diabetes and it goes uncontrolled and you developed neuropathy, the structure of your foot can slowly degrade and collapse,” says Dr. Andrew Belis, podiatrist and foot and ankle surgeon on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.

    That’s what happened to Pat. She had developed Charcot, or rocker foot. The bones in her foot collapsed putting constant pressure on her instep.

    “So that when you’re walking the mid-foot is actually striking the ground with more pressure than the front or the back and that can cause a sore spot to develop,” says Dr. Belis.

    The result was an ulcer that wouldn’t heal.

    “We basically reconstructed her foot making it more of a natural shaped foot so there’s not these high pressure spots where the ulcer or the bone would break through the skin and develop another ulcer again,” says Dr. Belis.

    Schulkins story had a happy ending but not everyone is as fortunate. Each year more than half the amputations in this country result from diabetes.

    “Our goal is to avoid amputations, because people with amputations end up having a very poor 5-10 year of rate of living unfortunately,” says Dr. Belis.

    Fixing the bone issue, through a reconstructive procedure, put Schulkins back on solid ground.

    “They re-built my whole foot, otherwise I don’t think I’d have a foot today,” says Schulkins.

    View More Health Matters video segments at leememorial.org/healthmatters/

    Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we've been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries.

    Visit leememorial.org

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  3. Each generation thought they were doing it for the right reason. The practice of removing a child’s tonsils has changed over time.

    “We went through a time years ago where everybody got their tonsils out. Then we went through a time where people were holding off a lot more. We still do it very often, but only when you meet the right criteria,” says Dr. Daniel McKenna, otolaryngologist on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.

    Sore throats are a common childhood ailment. Historically it was the top reason for a tonsillectomy. But the tonsils aren’t the source of sickness- only a collection point for bacteria.

    “They get overwhelmed and the bacteria ends up just hanging out there. Instead of actually helping the problem they end up being these sponges of bacteria in your throat,” says Dr. McKenna.

    Health experts now believe it’s best to let it ride. Unless a child has 7 throat infections or strep in one year or 5 for two consecutive years, guidelines state they are a candidate for removal. Nowadays, obstruction is a bigger concern.

    “Of either the airway, where you’re not breathing properly, snoring potentially maybe holding your breath and gasping for air at night which would be obstructive sleep apnea. Or obstruction of your ability to swallow,” says Dr. McKenna.

    New recommendations suggest a tonsillectomy to treat apnea may also improve related conditions of bed-wetting, slow growth, hyperactive behavior, and poor school performance.
    “You kind of have to try to separate those factors out. If you determine there’s a problem, you should take care of it,” says Dr. McKenna.

    Understanding when a tonsillectomy might be needed can help you and your child.

    View More Health Matters video segments at leememorial.org/healthmatters/

    Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we've been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries.

    Visit leememorial.org

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  4. Despite effective screenings like the Pap test and vaccines that prevent HPV, gynecological cancers are still a force to be reckoned with. These female cancers claim an estimated 28,000 lives a year.

    “When we talk about gynecologic cancers, we’re trying to bring together a group of diseases that occur in women, except for breast cancer. This would include cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer,” says Dr. Constantine Mantz, radiation oncologist on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.

    Long-term survivors, who have seen their cancers spread, were the catalysts for a new line of therapy.

    “The challenge for them is to try to at least slow down the progression of the cancer,” says Dr. Mantz.

    Doctors in Southwest Florida offered women with late stage cancer a new treatment. Located inside the Regional Cancer Center, it’s called Stereotactic Body Radiation. First used in brain cancer, SBRT uses sophisticated guidance that can track subtle tumor movement and deliver high doses of radiation-in a fraction of the time.

    “We’re able to cut down the number of visits and at the same time deliver a much more potent and much more effective dose of radiation than we could the conventional way. Conventional course of treatment may be 20/25, 30/35, 40/45 visits. With stereotactic treatment we can compress all that down to a total number of one, two, three, four, five treatments,” says Dr. Mantz.

    Results were exceptional this local study followed 36 women up to five years.

    “There is a group of patients who are long term survivors of advanced gynecologic cancer who will continue to enjoy a good quality of life for many years,” says Dr. Mantz.

    Despite harboring an inhospitable cancer. If treatment proves less toxic with fewer complications than traditional therapy, it may be used in earlier stages.

    View More Health Matters video segments at leememorial.org/healthmatters/

    Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we've been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries.

    Visit leememorial.org

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  5. What you don’t know- could hurt you. Richard Franklin learned the hard way.

    “It came on rather slowly and of course I found rationalizations for everything that was happening to me,” says Richard Franklin.

    He chalked growing weakness and fatigue to being out of shape and overweight. It was likely the root cause. But his condition was much worse.

    “I just started feeling really badly, so I called 911. The people that dealt with me, both the first responders and the people in ICU as I sort of slipped in and out of a diabetic coma, were great,” says Franklin.

    Franklin was one of an estimated 7-million Americans who didn’t know they had diabetes.

    “The challenge is with type 2 diabetes is that very often you may be asymptomatic, have no symptoms at all. And so it’s very hard for people to change behaviors when they don’t feel bad,” says Sharon Krispinski, certified diabetes educator with Lee Memorial Health System.

    It’s fairly common for someone to learn they have diabetes when they’re in the hospital. Whether it’s an emergency and their glucose is off the charts, or it shows up in blood work. Either way, it’s a wake up call.

    “Once they’re stabilized, the diabetes education team is called in to begin the education process. We will go over such things as meal planning, how to check their blood sugar at home we’ll talk to them about their medication,” says Krispinski.

    It was life changing for Franklin.

    “I feel better now than I have in probably years. It’s real nice to climb a set of stairs without being out of breath,” says Franklin.

    He changed his diet, lost weight and changed the course of his future.

    View More Health Matters video segments at leememorial.org/healthmatters/

    Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we've been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries.

    Visit leememorial.org

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Lee Memorial Health System: Health Matters

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The Health Matters Channel is a place where you can learn about the latest medical research, cutting edge technologies, and advanced care services available at Lee Memorial Health System. For information on Lee Memorial Health System's initiatives, services…


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The Health Matters Channel is a place where you can learn about the latest medical research, cutting edge technologies, and advanced care services available at Lee Memorial Health System. For information on Lee Memorial Health System's initiatives, services and clinical trials, visit leememorial.org.

Want to see our video archives? Go to: leememorial.org/healthmatters/

Interested in patient stories? Go to: leememorial.org/caring/

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