Lymphedema, is a one-word way of saying swelling that results from lymph fluid in your body. It can happen anywhere in your body, though it’s usually in your arms or legs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lymph fluid is the part of the system that carries fluids and cells that help fight infection. When those fluids get built up (such as when you’re fighting cancer!), they cause swelling, which can happen in a flash or slowly, over a long period of time.
What’s important to know is that sometimes lymphedema never goes away. And that can cause pain, raise your risk of infection, keep wounds from healing like they should and more. So it’s something you want to get ahead of and prevent, or help fix once it’s happened.
Start by learning more about lymphedema here. We’ve also got a movie that helps explain lymphedema and what you can do about it, while showing women who have dealt with lymphedema themselves. In that movie, they talk about the special sleeves you can get to help with the swelling, some of which make a high-fashion statement or even look like tattoos.
Remember insurance coverage on lymphedema sleeves can vary, but if you are having trouble affording one, check with your doctor’s office how and where other patients are getting their sleeves. Also go online and see who might be offering free or reduced-cost sleeves near you, as there are area-specific resources. And look for a national lymphedema resource such as the National Lymphedema Network or one of the many organizations that help breast cancer patients with financial issues, many of which can be found on our website here.