Saturday, 10 March 2018

Lymphoedema Awareness Week 2018 Day 7 ~ Vicky

"I've always been aware of the risks and have managed to keep my arm safe for nearly 12 years....."


I wasn't planning on submitting a piece for this feature as my relationship with lymphoedema has begun only fairly fact on Wednesday, right in the middle of lymphoedema awareness week, I went to the clinic for the first time as it seems I have developed lymphoedema in my right arm.

Following lymph node sampling when nodes were removed from my right axilla way back in 2006 upon diagnosis of primary breast cancer, I've always been aware of the risks and have managed to keep my arm safe for nearly 12 years, never allowing anyone to use it for blood tests, cannulas or injections.

Nearly 3 years ago I was diagnosed with extensive secondary breast cancer in my bones plus one axillary lymph node and now following progression of the cancer into my liver, I have been on weekly IV chemotherapy since October 2017.

Around January this year I noticed my arm was slightly swollen and since then has gradually been getting worse with some pain and tightening of the skin. Just a couple of weeks ago after having various IV fluids in one day, I couldn't see my knuckles as my hand was so swollen!

So this week the lymphoedema nurse told me it seems I've been ticking along fine for years with a broken lymph system but it's only now with the onslaught of treatment it just can't cope. The problem is they are unable to use the active methods to try and clear the lymph from my arm as they wouldn't want to send it into the rest of my body while I'm on chemotherapy as it could cause a whole lot of other problems, so for now all we can do is try and stop it getting worse. She prescribed the only option available to me of a compression sleeve and glove, and whilst waiting for these I can only hope it stays fairly stable in the meantime.

It's through this group and particularly my amazing co-deputy of BRiC, Tamsin, that I already knew some of what lymphoedema involves and I can take tips and advice from those who live day in day out with this debilitating condition to help me through.

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