Denise's Story

Life after Cancer 

For many people diagnosed with Breast Cancer complications such as Lymphoedema can really affect their quality of life. Lymphoedema is swelling that develops because of a build-up of fluid in the body’s tissues. This happens when the lymphatic system, which normally drains the fluid away, isn't working properly.

Today Denise share's her Lymphoedema Story

Being diagnosed with breast cancer was the worst day of my life in 2012. The mastectomy, axillary node clearance, chemo and radiotherapy wiped out nearly all of 2012 for me.

Never in a million years did I think I would get lymphoedema too, but two months after my operations I thought my arm felt a little strange. It was only when I was having my chemo that one of the nurses told me about their physiotherapist who could help me with my lymphoedema and axillary web syndrome (or more commonly known as cording).

There is not a lot known about these conditions but on the NHS the waiting list to see someone is now around 5 months, which is ridiculous as one thing I have learnt over the last 3 years is you have to manage both conditions and manage them well.


The main things that trigger my lymphoedema are:-
1. Extreme heat or cold
2. Anything repetitive
3. Travelling on a plane
4. Gardening
5. Hoovering

Things you need to avoid doing are:-
1. Lifting anything heavy with the affected arm
2. Avoid doing anything repetitive for long periods of time
3. Try not to damage the skin on this arm
4. If you get a cut put antiseptic lotion/cream on it straight away
5. Wear gloves for gardening

My daily management for this condition includes wearing compression garments for approx 20 hours a day. I wear an arm sleeve with a mitten on during the day and of a night time I wear a glove. My husband was trained to do manual drainage on my arm and we now do this twice a day. I also, after seeking specialist guidance, swim 3 days a week and do yoga to help my affected arm.

One thing I have learnt is that you can't be lazy with this condition. Daily management is best to keep it under control. Yes there are days when my arm swells up for no apparent reason and every day is like ground hog day. But I'm still smiling and enjoying every day so if you think you may be developing this condition seek help straight away.