Virginia Beach, VA
I am 44 years old and was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014. I had a mastectomy done and before the reconstruction surgery, I noticed that my hand and fingers were very swollen and was diagnosed with secondary lymphedema.
I went through physical therapy and manual massage, then fitted for a sleeve and glove. It is in my predominant arm/hand, which is awful! I had one more reconstruction surgery after that and all seemed okay, but last year I woke up and my arm hurt and was unable to move it.
I went to the doctor. I was running a fever but nothing indicated I was sick. The doctor took some blood and ran tests and only found a trace of infection in my urine. She prescribed an antibiotic, an ultrasound of my armpit, and a chest x-ray. I took the antibiotic that night and when I woke up the next morning, my arm did not feel any better and I noticed I had a sore and a rash all over that arm. I scheduled the ultrasound and x-ray and all came back good, only extreme edema in the armpit.
I went back to the doctor and was still running a fever. She looked at my arm and wasn't sure what it was. She knew it couldn't be an allergic reaction to the medicine because it was contained to that arm. She prescribed a new antibiotic and diagnosed me with cellulitis. It was the scariest thing I had ever seen. I couldn't bandage it because it was weeping and couldn't put anything on it. It did go away and I have not had any issues.
My breast specialist prescribed physical therapy again and manual massage. This disease has really affected my life. I have missed so much work from all the surgeries from the breast cancer and I ended up having a total hysterectomy last August. I used to be so active and I want that back so bad. I just received the flexitouch system and did my first session tonight (as you can see from my photo), I am hoping this helps with managing the lymphedema. It will hopefully allow me to not have to take so much time off from work for physical therapy. I am a desktop support technician, so this really does affect my ability to work, especially when they wrap my arm. One day at a time though and I am three years cancer free!