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Lymphedema and the lymph system

Wednesday, September 21, 2016 13:00
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So as an extra gift with breast cancer, I have lymphedema in my left arm. I am very coordinated and fell on our icy front walk and landed on my hand. My arm swelled up and voila, I have lymphedema. I have a 'lovely', 'skin tone' sleeve that I get to wear sometimes. It even provides some sun protection so I get a tan line on my wrist.

So what is the lymph system? I had no idea until I fell that day. I sometimes try to find more information on the lymph system.

First of all what is lymph? That clear fluid that seeps out of blisters and cuts sometimes. Its the other system in your body like your blood system but it has white blood cells and cleans out the dirty cells.

The smart people at Dana Farber provided this nice picture and a more detailed description on their blog here.

So if you look at the picture in detail, you will see how it flows around your body. And its pretty much divided in four quadrants of the body: top right, top left, bottom right, bottom left. Lymph nodes are lymphatic coolers. But if some get taken out, a 'traffic jam' occurs and all that lymph fluid gets backed up in whatever part of your body is beyond the incisions.

In my case, they took a big scoop under my left arm that grabbed a whole bunch of nodes. So the little lymphs get stuck in my arm which swells and is permanently larger than my right, dominant hand.

A former co-worker of mine had a bad leg from something traumatic and walked with a lymph. He ended up in the hospital for six months with lymphedema in his leg. I have a friend who had lymphedema in her arm and also on her side and in her abdomen. With treatment, she is now a smaller size in her torso.

So this is a nice little education class for the day. Class dismissed.

Caroline\’s Breast Cancer Blog



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