Friday, January 07, 2011

Lymphedema sleeves for every survivor

After my mom's mastectomy, there were lasting repercussions.The scar that marked where her breast used to be could be hidden by clothing and an expensive prosthesis. The prosthesis wasn't medically necessary, but her insurance covered both the prosthesis and the special bras that she needed to use it.

Lymphedema is localized swelling and fluid retention due to removal of the lymph nodes during a mastectomy. For most breast cancer survivors, this means that her arm swells tremendously throughout the day and that she has to be extremely careful not to burn, cut, bruise, or get a bite on that arm. For the rest of her life.

The arm is the visual marker for my mom. And I guess because it's such a public part of your body, people feel no obligation to not stare or ask invasive questions about why it might be swollen in the first place. My mom's arm couldn't be hidden and kept her from doing things she used to do in the past, like playing tennis.

Sometimes, Momma would wear a dark tan compression sleeve during the day to keep the swelling down. It was ugly, hot, and uncomfortable though. She didn't have the option of LympheDIVA, and I don't know that she would go for it now. But I can totally see her rocking this:

Here's the thing. Even though Lymphedema is a real and debilitating after effect of breast cancer treatment, insurance doesn't cover the compression sleeves.

I know, right? 

My friend Susan has helped joined forces to make sure that women who can't afford them, will have the compression sleeves and gauntlets that they need.

Enter Cricket's Answer to Cancer. Crickett's Answer for Cancer (CAC) is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization providing free wigs, mastectomy products, and pampering services to women with breast cancer across the US. Now, they will be helping make it possible for every woman who needs a compression sleeve get a compression sleeve.

You can help too. You can donate directly, or you can simply help spread the word. We have done so much for breast cancer through social media. Please join us in this new project that will mean so much to so many women and their families.