So I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to help educate others about lymphedema, a side effect of breast cancer treatment that causes an abnormal buildup of fluid resulting in permanent swelling in the arms.
While there are two kinds of lymphedema, secondary lymphedema occurs as a result of a blockage or interruption that alters the flow of lymph through the lymphatic system. It may develop from an infection, cancer, surgery, scar tissue formation, trauma, deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot in a vein), radiation, or other cancer treatment.
In my case, lymphedema developed in my left arm as a result of a mastectomy. While I knew nothing about the condition prior to my breast cancer surgery or treatment, a nurse navigator actually recognized the condition in my swollen arm about 4 months after my initial surgery. I was soon referred to a lymphedema treatment program, where I learned lymphatic massage techniques and was fitted for a compression sleeve.
I remember flipping through the catalog of sleeves, trying to find the least conspicuous sleeve possible. I initially opted for a beige compression sleeve that was similar to my own skin tone. Still, when I wore the sleeve, I got many questions about its purpose.
Fortunately, I have been able to keep my lymphedema under control for the most part. However, the condition does come along with certain restrictions and complications that remind me that it is yet another unwanted side effect of breast cancer treatment.
One day as I was browsing a mastectomy-fitter shop (because that’s what breast cancer survivors do for fun after treatment), I came across LympheDIVAs. I immediately fell in love with the medically correct and fashionable compression sleeves. After all, if I was still getting so many questions regarding my “inconspicuous” compression sleeve, I may as well look cool while wearing one. Plus, it would be a great conversation starter to help educate others about lymphedema. My first LympheDIVAs sleeve was the Lotus Dragon Tattoo sleeve. You can just imagine what kind of comments and looks I received when I wore that garment!
My current LympheDVIAs C4YW sleeve was purchased while attending the C4YW 2014 conference, where I had the opportunity to meet the company’s president, Josh Levin. I was deeply moved after hearing the story of how LympheDIVAs was founded.
I have since pledged to help spread lymphedema awareness and education. To learn more, read Lymphedema: What Every Woman With Breast Cancer Should Know.