Supporting women whose lives have been touched by breast cancer

Living with Lymphoedema

By cv

I know it varies from person to person, but I would like to tell you how my mild LE has changed my life :

  • I wear a compression sleeve and a gauntlet every day and probably will for the rest of my life
  • I will never ever wear only a short sleeved garment again
  • My arm swells if it gets hot. That means I can never sunbathe or have a hot bath. On a hot and sunny summer day I sit in the shade or indoors. I wrap my arm in a cool wet towel if I should sit in the sun for a few minutes.
  • When I shower, the water temperature should not be warmer than body temp
  • I have MLD once a week, takes a lot of time
  • I can't lift or carry things that weigh more that a couple of kilos with my left arm (according to my MLD therapist)
  • I sleep with my arm elevated on a pillow
  • I always elevate my arm when I rest e.g. in the sofa watching TV
  • My options of activities are very restricted, can't knit or play the piano or..........lots of things I used to love
  • I must avoid any breakage of skin. I wear a leather glove just to pat my daughter's lovely little puppy or to sew a button
  • I always have some antibiotics at hand in case of cellulitis (Which I fortunately have avoided so far)
  • Flying makes my arm swell and I am adviced not to travel further than European countries (max 3 hours)
  • I wear a medical alert bracelet most of the time, saying: No BP, no needles into left arm
  • I sometimes bandage my arm during night
  • And of course, I can't do much housework like hoovering and cooking, even though it's not in my dominant arm.

This is not even meant as a rant, just a list of the effects having lymphoedema has on me and my life. I know there are so many that are worse off.

I'm sure that other LE patients will add a lot to my list.