What You May Not Know About Reconstructive Surgery

The main problem is using the word “feel,” said Dr. Clara Lee, an associate professor of plastic surgery at Ohio State University. Many women who undergo reconstructive surgery often face broken promises from doctors. They don’t want to give patients false hope or the wrong information, but misconceptions still occur. Dane’e McCree decided to have her breasts removed after learning she had an increased risk of breast cancer, but she didn’t feel like the doctors warned her about the full picture. Although the appearance looks natural, Ms. McCree reports that they’re completely numb, unable to feel anything. “I can’t even feel it when my kids hug me,” she said.

While the breasts may feel “natural” on the outside post-surgery, the patient is unable to feel anything, not even air blowing on the skin. This can be very dangerous! According to the New York Times, “several women interviewed recounted times when they had not realized a bra was cutting into their skin until they saw blood.” Reconstructive surgery focuses on the appearance of the female body, not how the woman feels.

As of now, roughly 25 to 60 percent of mastectomy patients experience nerve damage. The best chance for sensory restoration is to use the woman’s own body tissue instead of an implant to increase the chance the nerves regenerating, but even this results in limited feeling. Luckily, this may be about to change.

A Houston a plastic surgeon, Dr. Aldona J. Spiegel, is working to reconnect the nerves to improve sensation, but Spiegel is careful to explain that it won’t feel like it did before. There are many factors to consider, including the risk of causing chronic pain in an attempt to restore sensation. If you or someone you know is considering breast reconstruction surgery, make sure they know all the facts to make the best decision for their health.

Check out this feature in the New York Times to read more.

Additional Resources

Is Breast Reconstruction Right For You? – BreastCancer.org

Reconstructive Breast Surgery Options – Johns Hopkins

Breast Reconstruction – Susan G Komen

Breast Cancer Awareness Month Giveaway!

Breast Cancer Awareness Month Giveaway Contest

Here at BrightLife Direct, our customers are very important to us. Each day, we talk with people who have been diagnosed with lymphedema and hear not only their questions, but their struggles. Lymphedema is commonly overlooked by doctors and can go undiagnosed for a very long time. Many people battling breast cancer are unaware that lymphedema can be a side affect to treatment and are unprepared for managing this condition. It can also be hard to obtain the resources needed to manage lymphedema due to a lack of regional availability of therapists and the financial cost. Since there is no cure for lymphedema yet, patients must wear a compression armsleeve everyday which can be costly, especially depending on the severity of the swelling.

The BrightLife Direct Armsleeve Assistance Program

BrightLife Direct Komen Armsleeve Program for LymphedemaIn light of this, BrightLife has partnered with the Susan G. Komen Foundation to provide compression armsleeves to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it. We will be providing free compression sleeves to patients at six different Komen grantee organizations here in Washington, D.C. These awesome organizations will help the patient measure for the correct fit and find the best armsleeve to help manage their symptoms. They will then send this information to us, and we ship out the armsleeve free of charge the same day. Check out Francia, pictured on the left, happily showing off her new compression armsleeve!

Enter Our Breast Cancer Awareness Giveaway!

You can win! In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, BrightLife Direct wants to give back to the lymphedema community. To help others with the financial burden of lymphedema, we are offering a $100 gift card for one lucky winner to choose any armsleeve or compression stockings of their choice! See below for entry and details.

lymphedema fashion compression armsleeves and compression socks

Lymphedema Style Guide

BrightLife Direct offers tons of compression armsleeves in a variety of sizes, colors, patterns and fabrics so you can find the perfect sleeve for you. If beige isn’t your style, we have lots of fun patterned armsleeves like LympheDivas and the new Juzo Signature Prints. The Juzo Dream Collection offers armsleeves and lower extremity compression garments in fun seasonal colors and tie-dye patterns. If you’re looking for eye-catching patterned leggings, try the new Juzo Soft Print Leggings, available in a large variety of patterns. Check out our style guide below for our customer’s favorite lymphedema options:


Lymphedema Compression Garments for Fashionistas

Mild to Moderate Lymphedema Garments

Moderate to Severe Lymphedema Garments

Lymphedema Compression Wraps

Juzo Soft Fashion Compression Socks and Lymphedema Armsleeves

Sizing Help

If you’re shopping on your own and don’t know your size, check out our Size Machine! Just enter your measurements and we’ll tell you what fits you best in all of the major brands. If you still have questions or would like some help deciding, please contact our customer service team.

You Can Win!

The rules are simple – the more you share, the more likely you’ll win! You can comment on this blog post to share your experience with Breast Cancer or Lymphedema, or share this post on social media. For details, see the Rafflecopter Contest Box below. Good luck!

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The First World Lymphedema Day!

BrightLife Direct Supports World Lymphedema Day

We are so excited to share the highlights from the very first annual World Lymphedema Day. March 6 is dedicated to honor lymphedema patients and this year, this great day was made official by the US Government. World Lymphedema Day is meant to promote awareness to this condition and show appreciation to everyone who is affected by lymphedema. More than 150 million people suffer from lymphedema worldwide and it is time that we find a cure.

One of the leaders in lymphedema advocacy, the Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN), led the effort to officially dedicate March 6th as World Lymphedema Day. This organization strives to raise awareness and educate people about this condition and has worked side by side with Kathy Bates to get the voices of lymphedema patients heard.

Senators Chuck Schumer and Chuck Grassley introduced a Resolution to the US Senate to recognize March 6th as World Lymphedema Day. Many lymphedema patients shared their stories and talked about how they were celebrating the day, urging others to spread the message.

Many people are aware of the fight against cancer, but few know that many breast cancer survivors develop lymphedema as a result of treatment. Others are born with it. Lymphedema can develop in the arms or legs and symptoms range from mild to severe. With so many people suffering from this condition, it is surprising that so few doctors are aware of it. This results in many patients going un-diagnosed for much of their life, and their symptoms worsening without proper treatment.

March is Lymphedema Awareness Month. We urge you to take some time to learn more about lymphedema, talk about it with your friends and family, and see how you can help make a difference this month. To show our support, we are giving away one Juzo Soft compression garment of your choice! The winner can choose one of the following in any size, color and compression level: knee highs, thigh highs, pantyhose, leggings, gauntlet, glove or armsleeve.

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Lymphedema on Ellen + Armsleeve Giveaway!

For our final giveaway in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, you can win a Solidea compression armsleeve of your choice! We hope that promoting awareness about lymphedema will help to educate both patients and doctors. Many people develop this condition after undergoing cancer treatment, and others are born with it. Lymphedema can affect many parts of the body, but most common are swollen arms and legs.

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The Washington Post recently released an article about a newborn twin who was born with lymphedema. The doctor could not figure out what caused the twin’s badly swollen legs. The mother, Heather Ferguson, was simply told to keep an eye on it to see if the symptoms got worse.  “That was the worst moment,” she recalled. “It’s so horrible to know that something’s wrong and to get the brushoff. I felt like we were on our own and that the medical system had just washed its hands of us.”

When a doctor figured out that the baby was suffering from lymphedema (thanks to searching the Internet), Ferguson was told to go back to the pediatric surgeon, not a lymphedema therapist. The surgeon again just advised to keep an eye on it. Without treatment, people with lymphedema are prone to infections and can develop  complications. Going untreated can also make everyday tasks very difficult if not impossible. It is extremely important to educate medical professionals and patients who are at risk about this condition to catch it early on before symptoms get worse.

Many people are unaware that they have lymphedema until it is already moderate to severe due to the lack of awareness and education about the condition. Hundreds of millions of people around the world suffer from lymphedema, yet many doctors know nothing about it and just brush symptoms off. While there is no cure for lymphedema, compression garments are used to manage and provide relief for symptoms.

BrightLife Direct wants to help promote education and awareness about this condition to better the lives of people suffering lymphedema and to get patients the treatment they need. You may have seen people posting #LymphedemaOnEllen videos on YouTube to help build awareness. We hope to see lymphedema on Ellen soon! You can check out our video above. Comment on our blog to share your favorite #LymphedemaOnEllen videos.

CMYK baseSolidea compression garments and shapewear are designed in Italy with fashion and function in mind. Many Solidea products are uniquely made using 3D Micro Massage technology that helps to stimulate lymphatic system. The 3D wave knit fabric expands and contracts on the skin to moveup to 78% of sluggish lymph back into circulation. The unilateral and bilateral sleeves benefit those who have a hard time wearing a traditional armsleeve because of constricting the upper arm. Graduated compression increases circulation to reduce swelling and fatigue.These products are breathable and are infused with silver ions to reduce the risk of infection as well as bacteria and odor to keep you comfortable and cool. All Soldiea compression armsleeves and gauntlets are made latex free.

To enter, log in with your email address or Facebook information below. Then, choose how you would like to enter: You can answer a question, leave a comment about the blog post, follow us on Twitter or tweet a message. Good luck!! Remember, you can enter once (per entry type) each day. The contest for the Solidea compression armsleeve ends Tuesday, November 3rd at midnight. The winner will be announced the following week.

SHOP SOLIDEA

Giveaway for Lymphedema Fashionistas!

Lymphedema never looked this good! For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this week we will be giving away a LympheDIVAS compression armsleeve of your choice! See the giveaway box below to enter.

Many breast cancer survivors develop lymphedema after the removal of lymph nodes and have to wear a compression armsleeve every day for the rest of their lives. However, not all armsleeves have to be boring beige. LympheDivas was founded by two breast cancer survivors, Rachel Troxell and Robin Miller, who were not fans of the typical armsleeve. These amazing ladies decided to make compression fashionable. Instead of heavy, hot, rough textured armsleeves, they decided to make fun, comfortable sleeves to inspire breast cancer survivors to feel beautiful, confident and strong.

If you’re feeling crafty, you can make your own “designer” armsleeve too! Pick up a pair of girl’s patterned tights. Just cut off the tops and bottoms and slide them over the armsleeve. They’re a great, affordable way to spice up any outfit. Check out the video below for instructions. Have ideas of your own? Comment on this blog post to share how you express your style.

LympheDivas compression armsleeves are available in 15-20mmHg and 20-30mmHg compression levels. These seamless, lightweight garments feel like a “second skin” and provide 360° stretch to keep you comfortable. LympheDiva armsleeves are made with state-of-the-art moisture-wicking fabric to keep you cool and dry, as well as an infusion of unscented aloe vera to moisturize and soften skin. All sleeves come with the option to include the DIVA Diamond Band to help keep the garment in place. These gorgeous armsleeves are machine washable – just place them in a garment bag and use warm water and gentle detergent. Washing your sleeve frequently helps to sustain the effectiveness of the garment and prolong its lifespan. All LympheDiva armsleeves are made latex and silicone free in the U.S.A.

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Here are some of our favorite sleeves inspired by Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This adorable Breast Cancer Awareness shirt is available from New York and Company for $9.95 and is made of 100% cotton. NY&C will donate $2 of each shirt to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

This week’s winner can choose any LympheDivas pattern, compression level and the optional DIVA Diamond Band. To enter, log in with your email address or Facebook information below. Then, choose how you would like to enter: You can answer a question, leave a comment about the blog post, follow us on Twitter or tweet a message.  Click here for more help. Good luck!! Remember, you can enter once (per entry type) every day. The contest for the LympheDivas armsleeve ends Sunday, October 25th at midnight. The winner will be announced the following week. Don’t forget to check back next week for our last giveaway!
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BROWSE LYMPHEDIVAS

Kathy Bates – “The Human Side” + Giveaway!

Kathy BatesAcademy Award winner Kathy Bates has earned 40 wins and 68 nominations including Emmys, Golden Globes and an Oscar. Over the past year, Kathy has taken on a new project – becoming the Lymphatic Education & Research Network’s (LE&RN) National Spokesperson. After being diagnosed with ovarian and breast cancer, Kathy Bates underwent a bilateral mastectomy to remove 19 lymph nodes from her left armpit and three from right. She developed lymphedema shortly after and has to wear a compression armsleeve for the rest of her life unless a cure is found.

To help spread awareness of breast cancer and lymphedema this month, we are giving away an armsleeve each week. Check out the giveaway at the end of this post to enter for your chance to win.

Every day, Kathy connects with others suffering from lymphedema and their families by writing letters to thank them and comfort them. She has made great strides in building awareness and education. She recently spoke at a two-day NIH symposium that took place on September 29-30. Bill Repicci, Executive Director of LE&RN, believes that this conference is a turning point in the field of lymphatics.

In her speech, “Lymphedema: The Human Side,” Bates explains that she was shocked to find out that millions of people suffer from lymphatic diseases, not just breast cancer survivors. Many people are born with it or develop it later in life. With about 10 million Americans and hundreds of millions worldwide, it is surprising that most primary physicians haven’t heard of this condition. To make matters worse, many people are not even aware they have lymphedema and suffer in silence. Without treatment, lymphedema symptoms can get worse and infection may occur, which can cause serious complications.

Many doctors who are aware of lymphedema don’t understand the severity of the condition, brushing it off as a “cosmetic issue” or blame symptoms on obesity or other causes. One woman suffered for eight years before being diagnosed with stage 3 lymphedema. Another patient, Marie Apodaca, was told by her doctor that she had to lose weight. She wasn’t diagnosed until she was accidentally hit with a cardboard box on her leg, which caused a clear liquid to drain out of her leg instead of blood. After months of therapy, Marie was able to remove 35 lbs of lymph from her legs.

Managing symptoms is no walk in the park either. Finding a lymphedema therapist isn’t easy. Since there aren’t many, it can be hard to find one that’s available or is located in your area. This can result in long commutes, which can aggravate symptoms. Zalee Harris who suffers from severely swollen arms can’t get regular treatments because of a long waiting list, causing her to be in more pain.

LE&RN focuses on raising awareness and education, but even more so, encouraging people to stop hiding their condition and share their story. Kathy took the Face of Lymphedema Challenge to inspire people to find comfort by sharing stories and to know they’re not alone. Dancer Pearl-Ann Hinds developed LE and decided to choreograph a dance dedicated to lymphedema called “Hello World.” She says “If I continued to hide the reality, the power to change the legs of future generations would be lost.”

Seven-year-old Emma Detlefsen was born with lymphedema in both legs and often battles infections that cause her to be hospitalized. This inspiring seven-year-old appeared before the NY State Legislator last year and convinced lawmakers to pass a bill for research funding that had been languishing for 12 years. She was awarded with the LE&RN Youth Ambassador Award on September 19th at the 5K Walk to Fight Lymphedema & Lymphatic Diseases on the Brooklyn Bridge. Kathy hopes that by bringing Emma’s message to us, it can inspire “even one of us” to accomplish her challenge and hopes you will join the fight for education and research.

Mediven Harmony Armsleeve Giveaway

bld-harmony-giveaway-pinterest For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, each week we will be giving away a compression armsleeve. Every week, we will feature a different brand. This week, you can win a Mediven Harmony armsleeve in your choice of compression level, size and color. To enter, log in with your email address or Facebook information below. Then, choose how you would like to enter: You can answer a question, leave a comment about the blog post, follow us on Twitter or tweet a message. To tweet the message, click the “Tweet” button then go to your profile. Click on the timestamp on the tweet and paste the url in the box below. Click here for more help. Good luck!! Remember, you can enter once (per entry type) every day. The contest for the Mediven Harmony armsleeve ends Friday, October 16th at midnight. The winner will be announced the following Monday. Don’t forget to check back next week for our next giveaway!

 

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RESOURCES

Kathy Bates – Official Website Kathy Bates’ Secret Health Struggle – The Doctors “How I Turned My Lymphedema Into Something Positive” – People Magazine Kathy Bates Awards and Nominations Kathy Bates on Larry King Kathy Bates Hosts the American Cancer Society Ball Lymph Nodes and Cancer – American Cancer Society Hello World – Lymphedema Dance by Pearl-Ann Hinds Emma’s Youth Ambassador Award Acceptance Speech Key Speakers from the NIH Conference in DC

Lymphedema Treatment Act Update + Giveaway!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This month, BrightLife Direct will be spreading awareness about a condition that many breast cancer survivors face after a mastectomy – lymphedema. This condition refers to mild, moderate or severe swelling (edema), and is often caused by the removal of lymph nodes during cancer treatment. Blockage in the lymphatic system results in the buildup of lymph fluid, which is why swelling occurs.

Lymphedema can develop in the legs, arms and other parts of the body. Some people are born with this condition and others develop it. Approximately 10 million Americans suffer from lymphedema. Breast cancer survivors who develop lymphedema have to wear compression garments over their arms and hand everyday to increase circulation to help manage their condition.

In addition to sharing information on lymphedema this month, we will be doing a weekly giveaway in honor of the many brave Breast Cancer survivors. See below for more information and your chance to win!

Today we want to share information and updates on the Lymphedema Treatment Act.

According to lymphedema specialist, Sue Enerson, many of her patients who are covered by Medicare are only allowed one visit after being diagnosed with lymphedema and more often than not, compression garments are not covered. The financial burden on lymphedema patients is huge. Patients often require frequent visits to doctors and lymphedema therapists to receive treatment and also to learn how to manage lymphedema at home. Patients must also purchase a supply of compression garments to wear continuously, for the rest of their lives, which comes at no small cost.

The Lymphedema Treatment Act is a federal bill that will improve insurance coverage for treatment, mandating that insurance companies provide the medical supplies to patients that are required to manage lymphedema symptoms (including compression garments, bandages, etc.). This in turn will reduce the total healthcare costs associated with lymphedema by reducing the number of complications and disabilities that result from poor treatment of lymphedema symptoms. Currently, most insurance policies including Medicare do not cover lymphedema treatment.

Seniors who suffer from lymphedema should not be punished for taking the necessary steps to treat their condition,” said Reichert. “By rectifying Medicare’s failure to cover compression garments we give seniors their best chance and real hope to fight back against this chronic disease. I am pleased to be joined by my colleagues from both sides of the aisle in this fight against lymphedema. – Congressman Reichert

On March 26, 2015, the Lymphedema Treatment Act was introduced to the current Congress, including a “Findings” section to explain the need for medical coverage. Treatment for lymphedema includes manual lymphatic drainage, wearing compression garments and Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT), which the bill will make the standard of care for lymphedema.

The Lymphedema Treatment Act currently has over 100 cosponsors. BrightLife Direct as well as many other compression garment companies are showing their support for the Lymphedema Treatment Act. Compression garment makers Sigvaris, Jobst, Medi, Juzo, Solaris and LympheDIVAS also support the bill.

How can you help? Contact your members of Congress to make sure they support the bill. Learn more here: http://lymphedematreatmentact.org/

Win A Prize Every Week!

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While there is no cure for lymphedema yet, compression garments help to provide relief. Every Friday during the month of October, we will be hosting a giveaway to win the featured armsleeve of the week. To kick of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this week we are offering a Juzo Soft Compression Armsleeve. Juzo Soft is available in six different colors as well as a variety of new colors for fall and winter. Juzo Soft Armsleeves are available in three compression levels and in a variety of sizing options. Winners can choose the color, compression level and size.  Don’t forget to keep checking our blog for your chance to win!

You can enter below by logging in with an email address or through Facebook and following BrightLife Direct on Twitter, answering a question, commenting on the blog post or by tweeting a message in the giveaway box below. To tweet the message, click the “Tweet” button, then go to your profile. Next, click on the timestamp on the tweet and paste the url in the box below. Click here for more help.

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RESOURCES

Breast Cancer Navigator

Shop Lymphedema Products

Managing Lymphedema

Kathy Bates – Life With Lymphedema

March is Lymphedema Awareness Month

Sigvaris Supports the Lymphedema Treatment Act

Congressman Reichert’s Involvement in Reintroducing the Bill

Meet Thelma Jones – “I Have Cancer, But Cancer Doesn’t Have Me”

ThelmaThelma Jones is making remarkable strides in breast cancer awareness. As a community activist for over 30 years and a breast cancer survivor herself, Thelma understands the importance of cancer awareness and education in her community. In fact, she was named a White House Champion of Change in 2011 for her leadership in the fight against breast cancer. She also received the Mayor’s coveted Community Service Award in the Lifetime Achievement category in 2010. Most recently, Thelma won the 2015 Thurgood Marshall Center Trust Phenomenal Woman Award.

In June 2007, Thelma was diagnosed with breast cancer. Shortly after, she became a certified breast-health educator with the American Cancer Society to work with cancer patients who had recently been diagnosed. After undergoing surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and hormonal therapy, she was able to win the fight. Thelma was inspired to give back to her community and share her story with others. Thelma believes that screening saves lives. She is working on educating people about the importance of regular checkups and knowing what symptoms to look for. The American Cancer Society says that women over 40 years old should have a mammogram done every year.

“Almost from the inception of my diagnosis, I vowed to fight back and use my voice to increase funding for cancer research and to make it a national priority.”

Thelma Jones is currently living in Southwest Washington, D.C. (our hometown!), working as a breast-cancer navigator for Smith Center for Healing and the Arts. Her role is to help her clients find care, schedule mammograms and answer their questions. Thelma emphasizes the importance of finding a good doctor that you trust because you should never feel uncomfortable asking the tough questions. Her goal is to share support and guide patients through this process, showing them the positive side of life after cancer.

Thanks to Thelma’s dedication and passion for her community, she started one of Southwest’s only breast cancer support groups. “Sometimes I would invite people to my house or out on the stoop to talk about breast cancer, and people started saying I had a support group – so I created the breast cancer support group,” said Thelma Jones. The ACS Breast Cancer Support Group in Southwest D.C. has helped over 300 men and women, especially those who are struggling more than others – the ones who have to choose between picking up their medication or paying the bills.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cancer is the second leading cause of death of women in Washington, D.C. If you want to get involved, you can donate to the American Cancer Society, or sign up for an event near you. You won’t want to miss the Relay for Life!

Thelma-j-council   thelma-wh

In the picture on the left, check out State Lead Ambassador and breast cancer survivor, Thelma Jones (far left), as Councilmember Cheh presented a breast cancer awareness month proclamation at the City Council meeting. The picture on the right is of Jennifer Aniston (left) with Thelma Jones (right) at the White House in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Resources

American Cancer Society

Three Minute Interview with Thelma

What is a Breast-Cancer Navigator?

Where to Find a Support Group in Your Area

“I Have Cancer, But Cancer Doesn’t Have Me”

Thelma Jones – White House Champion of Change

Breast Cancer Symptoms and Diagnosis – BreastCancer.org

Thelma Jones Brings Breast Cancer Awareness Support to Neighborhood

The American Cancer Society Relay For Life

Thelma Jones, Community Activist and Advocate

Cancer Facts and Statistics – American Cancer Society

Connect with Thelma on LinkedIn