A Leg Up On Lymphedema
A Leg Up On LymphedemaA Leg Up On Lymphedema

A Leg Up On Lymphedema

“Those who truly understand lymphedema from the inside are the patients who live through the daily challenges that the condition presents. As therapists we often fail in our ability to comprehend those challenges unless we too have personally experienced lymphedema.

The term “Lymphedema” refers to swelling caused by a problem with the lymph vessel system, most commonly caused by the consequences of cancer interventions such as surgery and radiation. However there are another group of patients who are often overlooked in the larger picture of cancer therapy. These are patients who have what is known as “Primary lymphedema”. This refers to a malformation in the lymph vessel system that occurs during development of the fetus in the womb. The consequence may be swelling that appears at birth, teenage years or after age 35. Most commonly primary lymphedema manifests in teenage years, affects females predominantly and usually affects the legs.

This personal account of the experiences of a teenager with primary lymphedema is an invaluable resource for other teenagers and also for those who want to become more familiar with what it is like living with lymphedema. I commend Courtney and her dedicated, committed and passionate Vodder-certified therapist Emily Smith, for bringing primary lymphedema out of the closet.”

Robert Harris
Vodder Schools


Picture this: We're in an auditorium and I am in the front row. Thousands of people around me, every person I have ever met. Wide eyes looking straight at me as I say out loud in high definition sound for the very first time:

“I have lymphedema. Do you hear me? I HAVE LYMPHEDEMA!”

Let me say it again for dramatic effect, and so by the time you close this book, I will never have to say it EVER AGAIN...I HAVE LYMPHEDEMA, Dang It!

What is lymphedema you ask? Well, it's something that I have and it absolutely sucks! What is it really? I will explain it to you - but not just yet.
See, I'm not ready to give you the specifics of what lymphedema is; not without first laying the groundwork of what I've been going through for the past few years. This is something that is lonely and isolating, and I've been keeping it to myself for so long that I now feel like a volcano has erupted inside of me and I just can't keep it contained anymore. How could I be a true young woman of faith if at some point I did not come forward and take what has been given to me and learn how to use it for something greater than myself?

Take a walk with me now, down through the tunnel from hell into my own little world that I know all too well. I can only pray that you will never experience this monster for yourself (at least it's a monster for me).

This is my secret. This is what I have been keeping to myself, my family and my closest friends for so long. This is what has been bubbling like acid beneath my skin while I've been sitting on the sidelines of whatever game you've been playing; while you’ve been wondering “what's wrong with Courtney?” or even better and more true to form, “Oh My Gosh Courtney...You're Leg Is So Fat; What's Wrong With It?”


Quoted from the Dr. Vodder Website:

The lymph vessel system carries excess water, proteins and wastes from the connective tissue back to the blood stream. During the transportation process the lymph is cleaned, filtered and concentrated. Many immune reactions occur in the lymph nodes. If the pathways become congested, blocked, damaged or severed, then fluids can build up in the connective tissue leading to edema and fibrosis. Eventually cell pathology may begin. If there is damage in the connective tissue (e.g. burns, chronic inflammation, ulceration, hematoma), then the lymph vessel system must transport the damaged cells, inflammatory products and toxins away from the area. The quicker this can happen, the faster recovery will be.



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