It happened in an instant. The sun was just beginning to rise on a beautiful Florida morning and Loyce Mackey was lacing up her sneakers as she did every day for the past 15 years. Loyce walked three miles a day at dawn, but this day is different. The nightlight that usually guided her way to the stairs was out. It seemed like a little thing. She may have even thought about picking up an extra bulb later that day, but she tripped and tumbled down the stairs, shattering her right leg, which had been radiated after breast cancer spread to her bones.
The avid athlete, who spent years playing tennis, flying airplanes and acting in community theater, was in severe pain and couldn’t stand. She sought relief at pain clinics and even underwent a 3½ hour neurosurgery operation, but nothing helped. Loyce became more bedridden as the days went by and passed away 21 months later due to injuries sustained by the fall.
The U.S Centers for Disease Control estimates that unintentional falls are the leading cause of injury and death in Americans over 65. However, cancer patients regardless of age are at a high risk for falls because of the disease and its complicated treatments.
Medications, loss of strength, low blood counts, electrolyte imbalance, neuropathy and dehydration all contribute to an estimated 20 percent of newly diagnosed cancer patients over the age of 65 suffering a fall at home within their first six months after their diagnosis.
Sept. 22 is National Fall Prevention Awareness Day and Moffitt Cancer Center is hosting a free fall prevention screening event from 8 a.m. - 2 p.m. where registered nurses along with physical and occupational therapists will perform:
- Postural blood pressure screenings
- Balance screenings
- Home safety screenings
- Safe patient handling for all caregivers
Attendees can also gain balance and strength by participating in a 15-minute tai chi demonstration at 10 a.m. Strength and balancing exercises such as tai chi help prevent falls. Other fall prevention methods include talking to your doctors, getting an eye exam and making your home safe by:
- Removing items that could cause you to trip
- Adding grab bars inside/outside the bath tub, shower and next to the toilet
- Put railings on both sides of the stairs
- Add light by using brighter bulbs
Before Loyce passed, her beloved husband, Bruce, made a promise to help others, especially those at Moffitt. Bruce kept his commitment and even moved to a community just minutes from Moffitt, where he volunteers on a regular basis and is an active member of Moffitt’s Fall Prevention committee. He’s made it his mission to educate cancer patients about the dangers of falling because he never imagined that his wife would battle breast cancer for 22 years and ultimately pass after falling down the stairs.
Fall Prevention Day at Moffitt Cancer Center
Date: Sept. 22, 2017
Time: 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Location: Moffitt Cancer Center — Droste Den