DES MOINES, Iowa — Arlyn Morris was diagnosed with breast cancer and started treatment for it back in August 2021. The treatment was difficult, including chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation treatments, which left Morris with mobility issues and neuropathy all over her body.

However, thanks to physical therapy Morris, of Des Moines, is on track to getting her life back.

“When we first started I could barely move my arm away from my body, but now I’m to the point where I can get, not full range yet, but pretty good,” Morris said.

What’s often left out of the cancer conversation are the effects of the treatment on the body once the cancer is gone.

“The breast cancer and some of the other things I had going on with an infection and damage from that, my whole left side essentially turned to concrete,” Morris said.

UnityPoint Physical Therapy at Penn Ave. has physical therapists who specialize in helping cancer patients. This relatively new field of medicine makes a huge difference in helping cancer patients recover from treatment side effects.

“It’s definitely something that’s newer in the realm of therapies and I think in the past 10 years it has really started to gain a foothold and it’s still growing,” Rodney Iedema, UnityPoint Physical Therapy at Penn Ave.’s Physical Therapist Supervisor, said.

“I think that’s a big piece that we’re realizing now that has been missing in cancer care has been recovery,” Iedema said, “We focus so much on just getting rid of the cancer, we don’t focus on what else is affected by that treatment and this is definitely a growing area of need.”

Morris said that a large part of her recovery is due to her and her therapists’ positive attitude.

“Being surrounded by people that you can find something positive in anything, no matter how horrendous it is, you can find something positive in it, and I think having that attitude makes a big difference, especially in the healing part of it,” Morris said. “I think attitude is as much of a healer as some medicines and therapies and things too.”

Morris hopes to one day be able to ride her bike again. So far, physical therapy has improved her mobility from only being able to walk up a few steps to an entire flight of stairs.