Passionate about helping others lead fulfilling lives despite their illness, Cynthia J. Shechter CLT-UE, CORE, IORS, CIMT, OTR/L, MA, has dedicated her life to providing rehabilitation services to patients who live with lymphedema. Since 2013, she has excelled as the owner, president and director of rehabilitation of her own private company, ShechterCare. An expert in breast cancer and lymphedema rehabilitation, she also oversees the daily operations of her business, including the management of documentation, finances, staff training and hiring, and insurance reimbursement. She has been located in Emerson, New Jersey, since 2019.
Ms. Shechter’s mission is to educate patients on lymphedema management, enabling them to return to their normal lifestyles. An advocate for individual patient care over “rules,” she believes every individual deserves to be evaluated and treated based on their individual needs, lifestyle, and ability to self-manage. Ms. Shechter has become highly regarded in her field for her people-centric approach, leading her to be honored as the Advocate of the Year and the recipient of a Patient Advocate Award from the Lymphatic Education & Research Network in 2015. She has also been interviewed by Larry Hand for Reuters and featured in several other articles.
Alongside her primary work, Ms. Shechter has devoted herself to public speaking, serving as a guest speaker for Survivor Journeys and the Lymphatic Education & Research Network since 2021, Lymphie Strong since 2020 and New York University in 2014. A dedicated civil advocate, she also participates in many nonprofit and charity organizations, including volunteering with the American Cancer Society and as a medical advisor for the 5 Under 40 Foundation since 2013.
To remain abreast of developments in her field, Ms. Shechter maintains affiliation with the National Lymphedema Network, the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, MyBCTeam and the National Consortium of Breast Centers. She is also a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc., Foundation 96, the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators, and the Lymphatic Education & Research Network, which has honored her as an “expert.” Selection for the Lymphatic Education & Research Network’s “expert” status is a prestigious recognition that Ms. Shechter regards as a career highlight.
To prepare for her career, Ms. Shechter earned a Bachelor of Arts in clinical sociology from Ithaca College in 1995. In her first professional role, she served as a marketing manager for Oxford Health Plans, LLC from 1995 to 2000 before refocusing on her education, subsequently obtaining a Master of Arts in occupational therapy from New York University in 2002. She has also attained several certifications to practice lymphatic rehabilitation, oncologic rehabilitation and constraint-induced movement therapy, among other specialties. For the next 11 years, from 2002 to 2013, Ms. Shechter was the director of breast cancer and lymphedema rehabilitation and an occupational therapist at Madison Avenue Physical Rehabilitation and Wellness.
Ms. Shechter attributes her professional success to her ability to clearly communicate therapy benefits with others. She also gives credit to her mentor, Linda Miller, and to her late father, who was misdiagnosed with an illness and the catalyst for her realization that she could give back to others through patient advocacy. With this sentiment, her advice to fellow industry members is to trust your gut and never be afraid to speak up. Her life mottos are “Raise your arms high” and “Live without limits.”
Looking toward the future, Ms. Shechter plans to pursue and complete a doctorate to work on breast cancer-related lymphedema and rehabilitation. She will also continue to work for the sustainability and stability of her clinical practice, creating an inclusive center where other services are offered, such as a 3D tattoo to help breast cancer patients who have had appearance-altering surgeries. She also plans to launch the first New Jersey-based support group and continue her fight to advocate for lymphedema therapy to be part of every occupational therapy program, as well as work to get doctors to be more proactive in referring rehabilitation.