Lymphoedema – lifting the lid on this illness

June 3, 2017

This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.

When I received this book I knew absolutely nothing about Lymphoedema. Yes I admit to being ignorant about this disease that, according to a recent study, shows over 200,000 people in the UK are currently living with Lymphoedema, often following cancer treatment – it affects one in five women after breast cancer treatment.

This book is an absolute must read for sufferers, friends, family and medical professionals alike as it includes medical information, treatment advice and day-to-day support. Professor Peter Mortimer, co-author, is a consultant dermatologist, working at both St. Georges’s Hospital and the Royal Marsden Hospital in London. He has spent most of his professional life in the research and clinical practice of lymphoedema and related disorders of the lymphatic system. He is a founder of both the Lymphoedema Support Network and the British Lymphology Society, and is internationally recognised for his work in lymphoedema.

Gemma Levine, the co-author of this book, is a renowned photographer, author and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and has shown over 60 exhibitions around the world. She has published 20 books including Go with the Flow (2012), an inspirational guide and practical resource to living with cancer following her own diagnosis with breast cancer. As a result of her cancer, she has lived with lymphoedema for a number of years.

Lymphoedema affects the lymphatic system, causing swelling and fluid retention; it can also cause aching, heaviness and difficulty moving. This book is a friendly guide that offers information anda patients with lymphoedema inspiration for dealing with its debilitating and lifelong effects. It features contributions from the international experts such as Dr. Miriam Stoppard, and the actress Kathy Bates, who suffers from the condition.

When you open this book the first four pages are filled with quotes from the great and the good.

It is important when an unfamiliar condition with a strange name is explained for us all to understand. That is what is happening here. As a result, those who have suffered in the shadows will now know their condition is widely recognised and that they have our sympathy and concern.‘ Baroness Joan Bakewell

“I was always aware of the terrible disease lymphoma, as my dad died with that condition, but was totally unaware of the the further ongoing condition lymphoedema. Any knowledge that can help explain this condition is a must-read.” Sir Alex Ferguson

I have now rethe cover of the book Let's talk lymphoedemaad the book and it is very powerful in its message. This book is not about cancer but it is about the lymph system, a part of our body that most of us know very little about. One of the problems, when the lymph system does not work properly, is lymphoedema however there is so much to learn about the lymph system. It acts as a drainage route for the body’s cells, carrying away excess fluid, waste materials, immune cells and proteins from the tissues.The lymph system is instrumental in controlling the amount of fluid in the whole body. Lymph glands perform two basic functions: they clean up the lymph before it re-enters the bloodstream, by sieving out, trapping and destroying foreign materials; and they monitor the lymph for telltale signs of infection in the body, playing a vital role in our immune system.

So by now you are beginning to realise how vital the lymph system is and as such needs to function properly in order that it can fulfil its role. Any impairment to the lymph drainage system causes the fluid to back up and collect within the tissues instead of draining away and this can lead to infection. With lymphoedema, the failure of the lymph system means that the immune system is compromised and cannot fight infection. It does not affect the entire body but just affects the area where the lymphoedema is present. However that area, can become very susceptible to infections which are difficult to eradicate and keep coming back.

According to recent studies lymphoedema is as common as Alzheimer’s disease, four times as common as HIV and rheumatoid arthritis, and twelve times as common as multiple sclerosis.

We all know people who are suffering from cancer. 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime, so this book may well be helpful to them and their family. Click below to order this book from Amazon.

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