Just though I would share with you a small piece I wrote, to be used in letter, as part of a fund-raising program for research into Lymphoedema at Macquarie University Hospital. There maybe some editing and cutting, as there is limited space. I had not been happy with the original so I asked if I could do it myself!!!! It is difficult to write about LE, when you do not have it, as it is very difficult to understand… This will be included with a letter from Prof. Boyages who explains the research. Well let’s hope this will help to bring in much-needed funds so that this program can continue with the equipment they need..
Helen was diagnosed with Uterine Cancer twelve years ago, treatment was a Radical Hysterectomy, including the removal of 22 lymph nodes from the groin, followed up by a month of Radiation. This impacted on the Lymphatic System and by the end of the radiation treatment Helen noticed the first signs of Lymphoedema in her left leg.
She described the cancer as a terrible shock, but is grateful there has been no re occurrence. Sadly though the Lymphoedema is a constant reminder of what she has been through. With a diagnosis of Lymphoedema came the daily regime of Manual Lymph Drainage, exercises and the wearing of compression stockings. Along the way there have been weeks of Complex Bandaging treatment, to reduce the Lymphoedema, but no matter the treatment it never goes away, there is no cure. One of the more difficult aspects for Helen has been the number of episodes of Cellulitis, due to the compromised Lymphatic System, which entails a stay in hospital for IV antibiotics. On one occasion the infection spread and she was diagnosed with Pericarditus, an infection around the heart.
After this frightening development Helen started to investigate more effective treatments for Lymphoedema. This brought her to the Macquarie University Hospital Cancer Institute, where in March 2013 she became the first recipient of a Lymph Node Transfer to the leg. Lymph nodes were taken from her neck and placed in the knee of the affected leg.
Helen’s journey is ongoing, as it can take up to two years and longer for the nodes to grow and develop new Lymphatic Vessels. It is her hope however that being part of this research program, she will light the way for others to be treated in the future.
She says, “We need to find better ways of treating Lymphoedema to give people back their quality of life.”