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Lymphedema

May 13, 2010

Body is a hard topic for me. I can’t say I’ve spent the majority of my life feeling grateful for my genetic make-up. Certainly, if the deal was to give a litany of all I do not love about my body, it would be a breeze. It’s always so much easier to do that. Exploring this topic this month is challenging to say the least, but it’s something I am glad to be doing.

When I became pregnant with my second son, my left leg became extremely swollen and painful. I thought I had done something to my ankle during an exercise class and went to a specialist. I was diagnosed with Lymphedema, given a pamphlet and sent home with instructions to call the referred physical therapist. Over the course of my pregnancy, the hope was that my leg would go back to normal after the baby was born. That did not happen. I am lucky that my Lymphedema was not brought on by cancer, as that is the common case. It has taken these last four years for me to really be in a place where I can talk about it and not feel angry. I definitely hit a depression the year after my son was born. I had a cancer scare, a swollen leg, and a baby who wouldn’t stop crying because of reflux. Even though it was the hardest time I’ve ever been through, it was something I needed to go through. I know that now.

Recently, I met a woman at a new book club who had undergone cancer treatment and come away with Lymphedema in her arm. I listened to her story.  She had amazing support from friends and family who were determined to help her with this new epidemic. Her Lymphedema is gone. There is no cure for Lymphedema, so I know this is something extremely rare and special. I realized when I was listening to this story unfold how I have never been capable of seeking or allowing help. I believe they call that “prideful”.  I have been afraid to talk about my situation and embarrassed over it to the point of my own detriment. I realized too, how incredible my family and friends have been with my own situation. The bigger thing I realized is how grateful I am to have been raised to be open minded. I see how life moves me into situations I need to be immersed in, whether to learn or to help.

My Lymphedema may not ever go away, but I am now determined to stop hiding behind my own fear. I am determined to live my life as if I did not have Lymphedema. I am determined to love my body, by treating it well with food and exercise and by mentally telling myself how grateful I am to have what I have each and every day. I am grateful for this blog and the challenges it’s presented. I am grateful to strong, beautiful, powerful women who are not afraid to tell their stories no matter how difficult. Today was my stake in the ground in my own determination to tell my story and possibly help another.

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