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Lymphedema Turning “I can’t” into “I can”

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Living with Lymphedema - Turning "I can't" into "I can"
By ABCN Editorial
Jul 7, 2003

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Approximately 24% of women who have had breast cancer surgery will develop lymphedema at some point in their life. When you have lymph node removal after breast cancer surgery, it’s easy to start thinking “I can’t” more than “I can” when considering how you will use that hand and arm on your affected side.  The very thought of these restrictions can be overwhelming and a nuisance.  Unfortunately, we have to live with the threat of lymphedema or the condition of  it, all our lives.  So let’s turn all those “I can’t” remarks into “I can”.  Here are a number of scenarios of how you can turn a negative into a positive:

Negative:  I can’t work in my garden any more, because if I get an infection I may end up with lymphedema or make my condition worst.

Positive:  “I can” work in my garden.  I will just need to wear a pair of protective gloves when I do and wash my hands when I finish gardening. 

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Negative:  I can’t carry my luggage when I travel.  

Positive:  “I can” purchase luggage on wheels when I travel, to make it easier for me.  I can also slowly work up muscle strengthening on my affected side, so that I can carry my luggage for short intervals. 

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Negative:  I can’t lift weights any more.  

Positive:  “I can” lift weights again, as long as I slowly build up the muscles in my affected arm.  I may have to lift lighter weights than before, but I can still weight lift.

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Negative:  I can’t take airline trips.  My arm may develop lymphedema or it may cause further swelling.  

Positive:  "I can" take airline trips.  I just need to wear a compression garment when I am flying and do some exercises afterwards.  If I notice signs of lymphedema I can get help for it.

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Negative:  I can’t even carry my groceries or packages home.  

Positive:  “I can” carry groceries or packages home if  I build up the muscles in my arm for everyday use,  carry lighter bags, and put my packages down every so often to rest my hand/arm.  I can also use a knapsack or cart.

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Negative:  I can’t safely take things out of the oven for fear of burning my affected arm.  

Positive:  “I can” safely take things out of the oven.  I just need to use a pair of long well-insulated oven mitts.

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Negative:  I can’t get a blood pressure test on my arm.  

Positive:  “I can” get a blood pressure test, but just not on my affected arm.

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Negative:  I can’t get any treatment in my area for lymphedema.  

Positive:  “I can” get treatment in my province.   The quality of my life is important and I will do what I can to ensure that I go somewhere to get treatment early.

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Negative:  I can’t go out in public with a lymphedema sleeve on.  

Positive:  “I can” go out in public with a lymphedema sleeve.  I just need to wear a long-sleeved shirt or jacket.  If it’s the summer, I can first start by wearing a sleeve when I’m with family or close friends.  Or, I can wear a lymphedema sleeve without hiding it.  People generally show concern and then get used to seeing me wear it.

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Negative:  I can’t afford a compression sleeve or treatment.  

Positive:  “I can” find out if there is financial help for a compression sleeve or treatment from breast cancer organizations. I will do what I can to ensure that I get proper treatment.

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Negative:  I can’t continue working because I do a lot of lifting where I am currently employed.  

Positive:  “I can” find a job that requires less lifting and is more beneficial to my health.

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Negative:  I can’t do the same hobbies that I used to do.  

Positive:  “I can” do hobbies. I just need to choose hobbies that I can manage and that are safer for me.  Or, I can use protective gloves if my hobbies include working with sharp items.  

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Negative:  I can’t rough-house with my children.  

Positive:  “I can” rough-house with my children.  We can make the play less “rough”.  I just need to ensure that I’m wearing my sleeve and when I call “time out” my children respond.  

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Negative:  I can’t continue to be dependant on others.  

Positive:  “I can” decide what I am able to do first, before I call on others.  “I can” talk with others about my worry about being too dependant.  And perhaps there is something “I can” do to help them in return.

Think of other ways you tell yourself "I can't" and turn it around to "I can".

http://www.abcn.ca/

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Advocates for Lymphedema

Dedicated to be an advocacy group for lymphedema patients. Working towards education, legal reform, changing insurance practices, promoting research, reaching for a cure.

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Pat O'Connor

Lymphedema People / Advocates for Lymphedema

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For information about Lymphedema

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For Information about Lymphedema Complications

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For Lymphedema Personal Stories

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For information about How to Treat a Lymphedema Wound

http://www.lymphedemapeople.com/wiki/doku.php?id=how_to_treat_a_lymphedema_wound

For information about Lymphedema Treatment 

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For information about Exercises for Lymphedema 

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For information on Infections Associated with Lymphedema

http://www.lymphedemapeople.com/wiki/doku.php?id=infections_associated_with_lymphedema

For information on Lymphedema in Children

http://www.lymphedemapeople.com/wiki/doku.php?id=lymphedema_in_children

Lymphedema Glossary

http://www.lymphedemapeople.com/wiki/doku.php?id=glossary:listing

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Lymphedema People - Support Groups

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Children with Lymphedema

The time has come for families, parents, caregivers to have a support group of their own. Support group for parents, families and caregivers of chilren with lymphedema. Sharing information on coping, diagnosis, treatment and prognosis. Sponsored by Lymphedema People.

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/childrenwithlymphedema/

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Lipedema Lipodema Lipoedema

No matter how you spell it, this is another very little understood and totally frustrating conditions out there. This will be a support group for those suffering with lipedema/lipodema. A place for information, sharing experiences, exploring treatment options and coping.

Come join, be a part of the family!

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/lipedema_lipodema_lipoedema/?yguid=209645515

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MEN WITH LYMPHEDEMA

If you are a man with lymphedema; a man with a loved one with lymphedema who you are trying to help and understand come join us and discover what it is to be the master instead of the sufferer of lymphedema.

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/menwithlymphedema/

Subscribe: menwithlymphedema-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

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All About Lymphangiectasia

Support group for parents, patients, children who suffer from all forms of lymphangiectasia. This condition is caused by dilation of the lymphatics. It can affect the intestinal tract, lungs and other critical body areas.

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/allaboutlymphangiectasia/

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Lymphatic Disorders Support Group @ Yahoo Groups

While we have a number of support groups for lymphedema... there is nothing out there for other lymphatic disorders. Because we have one of the most comprehensive information sites on all lymphatic disorders, I thought perhaps, it is time that one be offered.

DISCRIPTION

Information and support for rare and unusual disorders affecting the lymph system. Includes lymphangiomas, lymphatic malformations, telangiectasia, hennekam's syndrome, distichiasis, Figueroa
syndrome, ptosis syndrome, plus many more. Extensive database of information available through sister site Lymphedema People.

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/lymphaticdisorders/

Subscribe: lymphaticdisorders-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

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Lymphedema People New Wiki Pages

Have you seen our new “Wiki” pages yet?  Listed below are just a sample of the more than 140 pages now listed in our Wiki section. We are also working on hundred more.  Come and take a stroll! 

Lymphedema Glossary 

http://www.lymphedemapeople.com/wiki/doku.php?id=glossary:listing 

Lymphedema 

http://www.lymphedemapeople.com/wiki/doku.php?id=lymphedema 

Arm Lymphedema  

http://www.lymphedemapeople.com/wiki/doku.php?id=arm_lymphedema 

Leg Lymphedema 

http://www.lymphedemapeople.com/wiki/doku.php?id=leg_lymphedema 

Acute Lymphedema 

http://www.lymphedemapeople.com/wiki/doku.php?id=acute_lymphedema 

The Lymphedema Diet 

http://www.lymphedemapeople.com/wiki/doku.php?id=the_lymphedema_diet 

Exercises for Lymphedema  

http://www.lymphedemapeople.com/wiki/doku.php?id=exercises_for_lymphedema 

Diuretics are not for Lymphedema 

http://www.lymphedemapeople.com/wiki/doku.php?id=diuretics_are_not_for_lymphedema 

Lymphedema People Online Support Groups 

http://www.lymphedemapeople.com/wiki/doku.php?id=lymphedema_people_online_support_groups 

Lipedema 

http://www.lymphedemapeople.com/wiki/doku.php?id=lipedema 

Treatment 

http://www.lymphedemapeople.com/wiki/doku.php?id=treatment 

Lymphedema and Pain Management 

http://www.lymphedemapeople.com/wiki/doku.php?id=lymphedema_and_pain_management 

Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) and Complex Decongestive Therapy (CDT)

http://www.lymphedemapeople.com/wiki/doku.php?id=manual_lymphatic_drainage_mld_complex_decongestive_therapy_cdt 

Infections Associated with Lymphedema 

http://www.lymphedemapeople.com/wiki/doku.php?id=infections_associated_with_lymphedema 

How to Treat a Lymphedema Wound 

http://www.lymphedemapeople.com/wiki/doku.php?id=how_to_treat_a_lymphedema_wound 

Fungal Infections Associated with Lymphedema 

http://www.lymphedemapeople.com/wiki/doku.php?id=fungal_infections_associated_with_lymphedema 

Lymphedema in Children 

http://www.lymphedemapeople.com/wiki/doku.php?id=lymphedema_in_children 

Lymphoscintigraphy 

http://www.lymphedemapeople.com/wiki/doku.php?id=lymphoscintigraphy 

Magnetic Resonance Imaging 

http://www.lymphedemapeople.com/wiki/doku.php?id=magnetic_resonance_imaging 

Extraperitoneal para-aortic lymph node dissection (EPLND) 

http://www.lymphedemapeople.com/wiki/doku.php?id=extraperitoneal_para-aortic_lymph_node_dissection_eplnd 

Axillary node biopsy 

http://www.lymphedemapeople.com/wiki/doku.php?id=axillary_node_biopsy

Sentinel Node Biopsy 

http://www.lymphedemapeople.com/wiki/doku.php?id=sentinel_node_biopsy

 Small Needle Biopsy - Fine Needle Aspiration 

http://www.lymphedemapeople.com/wiki/doku.php?id=small_needle_biopsy 

Magnetic Resonance Imaging 

http://www.lymphedemapeople.com/wiki/doku.php?id=magnetic_resonance_imaging 

Lymphedema Gene FOXC2

 http://www.lymphedemapeople.com/wiki/doku.php?id=lymphedema_gene_foxc2

 Lymphedema Gene VEGFC

http://www.lymphedemapeople.com/wiki/doku.php?id=lymphedema_gene_vegfc

 Lymphedema Gene SOX18

 http://www.lymphedemapeople.com/wiki/doku.php?id=lymphedema_gene_sox18

 Lymphedema and Pregnancy

http://www.lymphedemapeople.com/wiki/doku.php?id=lymphedema_and_pregnancy

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Page Updated: Dec. 14, 2011