Feb 07, 2001 - 9:38 pm
In May,1995 I was diagnosed with breast cancer in my right breast. I had a bilateral mastectomy- just to be safe on the left breast which was riddled with cysts. They removed 20 lymph nodes under my right arm, two were cancerous. I had 6 treatments of chemotherapy and 30 radiation treatments. On one of my check-up visits within the first year, I brought the fact of my right arm being swollen to my surgeon's attention and she sent me to a lymphedema specialist immediately. This was something I knew nothing about and even though I feel I had the best doctors anywhere, they never even mentioned this to me. As I started physical therapy and trying to understand what this was, I found there is not much information out there. What this is: The fluid that normally flows through the lymph nodes in your arm goes down the arm but has no way of coming back out and this causes your arm to swell and keep swelling and so on. I have been taught how to manually massage my arm and it helps. Of course, my husband is the one who does it. I have to wear a compression sleeve all the time except when I am sleeping. The sleeve lasts about 3 to 4 months and it has to be replaced at a cost of almost $400.00. This disease is life-long and can be very depressing. I wanted women like me who were not told about this condition and for future breast cancer patients to recognize what it is. What we lymphedema patients need is more information.