A message from Emilia Dewi, Aria Health Clinical Specialist and Certified Lymphedema Therapist:
March has always been a special month for the lymphatic community – we celebrate World Lymphedema Day on March 6th and the entire month of March for Lymphedema Awareness Month. As a certified lymphedema therapist, it’s such an occasion to raise awareness for the needs of lymphedema treatment – as we still have a long way to go to provide care for everyone who needs it.
However, this year hits a bit different for me. I had a mastectomy with 5 lymph nodes removed in November 2022 so now technically, based on the classification that I use to guide my patients, I can be classified as having stage 0 lymphedema – where my lymphatic system is no longer as optimal due to the nodes removal, but there isn’t any visible swelling yet.
It is bittersweet indeed – bitter because I know how much work I need to do to keep my lymphatic fluid moving, and sweet because I now can relate better to all the patients that I used to serve daily. I now wear a compression sleeve when I travel or when I do high risk activities where my lymphatic system needs support (exercise, long drives in the car, or any other strenuous activities). I also do breathwork and lymphatic drainage to help support my lymphatic flow, not to mention scar work, red light therapy for my scar tissue, and exercise/stretching. The list of things that I do to care for myself is long, but doable.
I truly believe that we should care for ourselves before things progress, or we will spend more time and money trying to care for ourselves once things are worse. So, if you’re in my boat today and feel slightly overwhelmed because there are so many things you must do for “self-care”, consider this an act of love for yourself. A lot of us have spent many years putting our own needs or health on the back burner because of work, family obligations, caring for others, etc, however we cannot run on an empty cup. You can’t love others before you love yourself – so make a choice today to care and love yourself – and do the thing you need to do for your daily lymphedema management.
The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or another health care provider if you have any questions about a medical condition or treatment, and do not disregard your doctor’s advice because of any information provided on this site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately contact your doctor or call 911.