Two doctors take proactive approach to pain from cancer surgery
The diagnosis knocked the wind out of her: breast cancer and the prospect of a mastectomy within days.
As an anesthesiologist — a specialist who makes surgical miracles possible by putting patients in a deep sleep and then awakening them to live again — Dr. Rassamee Ling knew what to expect after surgery.
“My big worry was preventing chronic pain. I knew right at the outset that was a possibility,” Ling says eight months after her initial surgery and two months after breast reconstruction.
She turned to her friend and colleague Dr. Brenda Lau, a fellow anesthesiologist who also practises at the Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre in Surrey, for advice.
Lau also runs the Vancouver clinic Change Pain, and is at the forefront of a new way of treating pain. She is among a small group of specialists who take an all-encompassing approach, encouraging a series of small steps — including improving nutrition and reducing anxiety — that can help manage pain without relying solely on potentially dangerous opioid-based drugs.