I often find myself saying this as a way of explaining why I started Beauty Despite Cancer and why I created Defiant Beauty...
- Breast cancer, uterine cancer, prostate cancer, vulvar cancer, ovarian cancer, lymphoma and melanoma are those most likely to lead to Lymphedema (lymphoedema).
- Lymphedema (lymphoedema) does not always occur straight away, but it would usually develop within the first 3 years of treatment.
- see below for references
Looking good despite Lymphedema (lymphoedema)
Lymphedema (lymphoedema) can occur after any cancer treatment or procedure that affects the flow of lymph through the lymph nodes, such as removal of lymph nodes.
What is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema (lymphoedema) occurs when the lymphatic system is damaged or blocked. Fluid builds up in soft body tissues and causes swelling, usually affecting the arms or legs, but can also affect other parts of the body. Lymphedema (lymphoedema) is a common problem that can be caused by cancer and cancer treatment.
Lymph is a fluid that contains lymphocytes (white blood cells) that fight infection. Lymph flows through a network of tubes, called lymph vessels, and returns to the blood stream. Along the network of lymph vessels are lymph nodes, which act as a filter for the lymph, and store white blood cells that help fight infection and disease. Clusters of lymph nodes are found in the underarm, pelvis, neck, abdomen, and groin.
When the lymphatic system is functioning properly, the lymph flows through the lymphatic system and collects near the neck. The lymph then flows into one of the two large ducts. The right duct collects lymph from the right arm and the right side of the head and chest, whereas the left lymph duct collects lymph from both legs, the left arm, and the left side of the head and chest. These large lymph ducts then empty into veins under the collarbones, which carry the lymph to the heart, where it is returned to the bloodstream.
When part of the lymphatic system is damaged or blocked, fluid cannot drain from nearby body tissues, and so lymph fluid builds up in the tissues and causes swelling. Damage to the lymphatic system can occur due to by infection, injury, cancer, removal of lymph nodes, radiation to the affected area, or scar tissue from radiation therapy or surgery.
There are various risk factors for lymphedema (lymphoedema), these include:
The removal and/or radiation of lymph nodes in the underarm, groin, pelvis or neck may cause lymphedema (lymphoedema). The more lymph nodes that are affected, the higher the risk of developing lymphedema (lymphoedema). Other risk factors include being overweight, the slow healing of skin after surgery, and scar tissue in the lymph ducts under the collarbones, which is caused by surgery or radiotherapy.
http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/supportivecare/lymphedema/patient/ [accessed on 12th November 2013]
Compression garments provide support for those suffering from lymphedema (lymphoedema), helping lymph to be pumped around the lymphatic system more effectively. Compression bandages work by compressing the swollen tissues and stopping the fluid from building up in damaged areas of the lymphatic system, whilst encouraging fluid to move to areas that are still able to drain lymph fluid.
The type of compression and the length of time that compression bandages should be worn for is a matter for your medical team. Most are advised that Compression garments should be worn all day, but usually can be taken off at night when you are resting. At first the compression bandage will probably feel uncomfortable, and many like to gradually build up the amount of time that they wear the compression garment. On the first day you may only be comfortable with wearing the compression bandage for a couple of hours. As you become more used to the feeling, you can increase the amount of time spent wearing your compression bandage, until you can keep it on for most of the day.
http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Cancerinformation/Livingwithandaftercancer/Symptomssideeffects/Lymphoedema/Compressiongarments.aspx [accessed on 12th November 2013]
Compression garments are essential for controlling lymphedema (lymphoedema), so how come many people suffering with lymphedema (lymphoedema) hate wearing them?
Lets see what you have to say about them.
‘Every time I look at my hands I see this compression bandage and it reminds me of everything I have been through. Even worse, the compression dressings are so unsightly. I have always taken care of my appearance and the need for compression takes away from the stylish outfit that I have taken care to put together.
I know that I have to wear the compression bandage but I want to cover it for so many reasons.’
My compression bandages are very much needed. I had such a tough time with my breast cancer and subsequent infection. I am constantly reminded of it all by the discomfort of the lymphedema (lymphoedema), the presence of those awful compression bandages compounds it all and makes me miserable. Others ask why I have compression bandages and then I have to have the same conversation again and again. I am identifiable as someone who has been through cancer treatment. I am delighted to have these gorgeous cashmere gloves to cover them. I have a few pairs so that I can match them to my outfits and just looking at them makes me feel better for so many reasons.
Many cancer patients and those who have been through cancer treatment have to wear compression garments in order to control their lymphedema (lymphoedema). Whilst compression garments are vital for controlling lymphedema (lymphoedema), many people feel hate wearing them, as they often feel uncomfortable, unstylish and self-conscious.
So why not regain comfort, style and confidence through wearing a pair of cashmere fingerless gloves over the top of your compression bandage? A lovely pair of cashmere fingerless gloves is practical and stylish, ideal for keeping you warm, comfortable, as well as looking good. Soft, light and easy to wear, these cashmere fingerless gloves fit perfectly snug on top of the rather unappealing compression garments. Who says you can’t have style and comfort at the same time? These unique, comfy and stylish fingerless clothes would make a fantastic get well gift, and is also an ideal gift for cancer patients. So why not treat someone you care about to a bit of luxury?
PLEASE NOTE our cashmere fingerless gloves are not an alternative to compression garments. We suggest that they be worn in addition to the compression garments so that the unsightly compression bandages are covered with a much more appealing and luxurious 'garment'. There's no need to advertise your medical condition to the rest of the world. Show the world your cashmere not your medical history.