Monday, 5 March 2018

Lymphoedema Awareness Week 2018 Day 2 ~ Ruth

"It’s part of who I am." 


I developed lymphoedema in 2013, which was actually 9 years after my first diagnosis with breast cancer, for which I had a mastectomy and axillary node clearance.  

It first presented as mild swelling but it quite suddenly became a lot worse about 15 months later for no apparent reason except that I had the flu. Up until then I’d managed with a sleeve ‘as and when’ I needed it, provided by the specialist Lymphoedema Service, but afterwards I needed one with a higher level of support and a hand piece. At this point I was very upset, I hated wearing the equipment, I was in pain, felt unattractive and miserable. I also felt very angry as I really thought I’d ‘got away with it’. I coped (and still do) by using black rather than beige sleeves, creaming religiously every night with a nice smelling body cream and basically taking very good care of my arm.  Since then, it has gradually improved and just over 3 years later. 

While I still need the sleeve the hand-piece is no longer needed and the swelling has reduced a little. I use a car with an arm rest and this has also helped a lot. I’ve come to terms with it now; although I don’t like it, it’s part of who I am.  


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