The ABC’S OF LIVING WITH LYMPHEDEMA
Susie Wills, BSN, RN, CLT
March 19, 1999
A is for Acceptance. You can deny that you have lymphedema and get worse, or you can accept it, learn how to live with it, and do very well.
B is for Bandaging. (Please refer to A.) Your therapist may give you alternatives for after therapy, but to start out with, bandaging is a necessity.
C is for Courage. Why? Because every time you go out in public someone is going to ask, “What happened to you?” It takes courage to be able to educate your friends as well as strangers about lymphedema.
D is for Denial. It doesn’t work. (Please refer to A.)
E is for Exercise. There are breathing and limb exercises which are proven to be effective in treating lymphedema.
F is for Forgiveness. On those days when you just have to cry because you are so overwhelmed, go ahead and cry! Then realize you are human and forgive yourself.
G is for Giving. You have lived with lymphedema and have valuable information which can help others who are struggling. Join or organize a support group, volunteer with the Red Cross or American Cancer Society.
H is for Help. Ask for it. You’ll be surprised how many people are willing to give it without expecting anything in return.
I is for Information. Seek it from your doctor, therapist, the NLN. The more you know about lymphedema, the more educated decisions you can make.
J is for Justice. There is none. (Refer to A.)
K is for Kindness. Especially to yourself.
L is for Laughter. It truly is the best medicine. Look for and enjoy the humor in life.
M is for Maintenance. Lymphedema cannot be cured, but if you follow your maintenance program you can manage and maintain it.
N is for No. This is a small word in the English language that is underused by people who find it difficult to take care of themselves.
O is for Overwhelmed. This occurs when you think, “I have to do what for the rest of my life?!!” You just have to do it for today. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow has not arrived.
P is for Prevention. Follow the 18 prevention steps provided by the NLN.
Q is for Quality. The quality of your life with lymphedema is ultimately up to you.
R is for R-e-s-p-e-c-t. This was a hit record for Aretha Franklin.
S is for Symptoms. Know what symptoms you need to report to your physician.
T is for Treatment. Treatment is available. Learn what options are out there and educate your physician.
U is for Urgent. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today when it comes to caring for your lymphedema.
V is for Victorious. You can overcome lymphedema even if you can’t cure it.
W is for Wise. Be a wise consumer. Learn all you can about lymphedema and treatment options and facilities.
X is for Xylophone. A musical instrument which has absolutely nothing to do with lymphedema.
Y ………………….because we like you! (Please refer to theme song for “The Mickey Mouse Club”.)
Z is for Zilch. This is how much help the ABC’s of Lymphedema will probably give you. Well, if you even giggled once it was therapeutic!