Promoting Lymphatic Research + Giveaway!

Lymphedema is a chronic lymphatic disease that affects 10 million Americans and hundreds of millions worldwide. Symptoms include swelling in one or more parts of the body. Although many people are affected by lymphedema, many patients go undiagnosed or untreated due to a lack of knowledge and resources. To change this, many organizations, companies, doctors and patients are coming together to promote awareness and find a cure for lymphedema.

LE&RN

The Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN) is a non-profit organization founded in 1998 to promote research in the fields of lymphatic diseases, lymphedema, and related disorders. Through their industry outreach program, LE&RN has established partnerships with the biotech and pharmaceutical industries working to find improved treatments and cures.

The Lymphatic Education & Research Network offers support and provides resources to lymphedema patients, including a tool to find a local lymphedema therapist. LE&RN has established a patient registry and tissue bank to serve as a repository of information for current and future researchers. Several fellowship grants are awarded each year to doctors, scientists, and organizations working in the field of lymphatic research. The immediate goal is to expand our understanding of the lymphatic system.

Actress Kathy Bates partnered up with the Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN) to build awareness about lymphedema. Some people are born with it, others, like Kathy Bates develop lymphedema after a mastectomy. Lymphedema is commonly caused after the lymph nodes are damaged or removed from breast cancer treatment, or it may develop after injury or surgery.

Medi For Help

Mediven, a compression hosiery company, is making a difference in Haiti. Medi For Help was founded in 2010 after an earthquake struck the country leaving more than 300,000 men, women and children injured. This relief project provides amputees with lower limb prostheses and offers orthopedic, wound care and lymphedema treatment. Medi For Help has provided treatment to 4,500 Haitians and counting. The project provides support once the patient starts walking again. Medi For Help also now treats patients with diabetes or those recovering from a car accident.

Compression Garments To Manage Lymphedema

Although there’s no cure for lymphedema (yet!) the condition can be managed with the help of a lymphedema therapist, compression garments, Manual Lymph Drainage, and other techniques. Many compression companies are paving the way in wound care and lymphedema treatment to provide innovative, comfortable and effective high compression garments.

Strong & Durable Wraps

Compression wraps are a great alternative to high compression garments and are much easier to put on. Many brands like CircAid, BiaCare and Solaris offer durable and effective options to manage lymphedema. Browse our Wrap Catalog for a variety of ankle, thigh high and full leg wraps.

Everyday Compression For Lymphedema

Many brands offer compression knee highs, thigh highs, pantyhose and armsleeves in high compression levels to manage lymphedema. Choose from a variety of sizes, styles, fabrics and compression levels to find the perfect fit for you. Each brand offers different sizing, so make sure to check the size charts for an accurate fit. Save yourself some work and use our Size Machine to automatically calculate your size in all the biggest brands!

Stylish and Supportive Options

Say goodbye to boring old beige armsleeves and stockings. Introducing LympheDivas fashionable compression armsleeves, gloves and gauntlets in a variety of sizes, lengths and compression levels for the perfect look and feel. Looking for more patterned armsleeves? Try the Juzo Signature sleeves, available in three compression levels. Add some style to any outfit in the Juzo Dream Collection, available in a variety of knee highs, thigh highs, leggings, pantyhose and armsleeves in solid and tie-dye seasonal colors.

Lymphedema Awareness Month Giveaway!

In honor of the second annual World Lymphedema Day on Monday, March 6, 2017, BrightLife will be offering a $100 gift card for lymphedema compression garments. Through the month of March, enter to win below!

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!! The contest ends Friday, March 31st at midnight.

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Pete@BrightLife Direct

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Spring-Inspired Armsleeves Are Here!

The flowers are blooming, the sun is shining and the grass even seems greener. Yes, Spring is finally here! Welcome the warm weather with new armsleeves from Juzo and LympheDivas to revamp your wardrobe this season.

If you’re looking for a striking pattern this Spring, you’re going to love these new LympheDivas compression armsleeves, gauntlets and gloves. If you have a bold style and favor armsleeves that stand out, the Festival armsleeve in a hippie-meets-paisley pattern is a great choice for you. For a more relaxed look, the Ava armsleeve is designed with colorful birds and is a perfect option for your Spring wardrobe. If you’re browsing for something more hardcore, the Misfit armsleeve features skulls that are complimented with vibrant butterflies. You’ll feel like you’re at the beach with the ocean-colored Sea Breeze armsleeve, decorated with starfish and seashells. All LympheDivas gloves and gauntlets are designed to match your armsleeve and are available in 20-30 and 30-40 mmHg compression levels.

Juzo Dream Colors Spring 2016 - BrightLife DirectFinally, the wait is over. The Juzo Dream Collection for Spring 2016 is here! Introducing new, spring-inspired colors in knee highs, thigh highs, pantyhose, leggings, armsleeves and gauntlets in three compression levels. Choose from Cosmo Blue, Fiesta Red, Mardi Gras Purple, Copper Beach, Appletini, Kitty Cat Grey, and Yoga Yellow in Naturally Sheer, Juzo Soft and the Dynamic lines. Juzo Dream colors are available in tie dye and black tie dye in Juzo Soft and Dynamic only.

Don’t see what you’re looking for? Give us a call at 1-877-545-8585 or send us an email at custserv@brightlifedirect.com and we’ll add it for you!

LympheDivas Sizing Changes

LympheDivas Compression Armsleeves, Gloves and Gauntlets at BrightLife Direct!

LympheDivas manufactures a large variety of stylish compression armsleeves, gauntlets and gloves. They even offer LympheDudes armsleeves and gloves for men! Their fashionable armsleeves have not changed, but the sizing has been renamed to make it a bit easier to determine your size.

LympheDivas offers two lengths for their armsleeves, a shorter one and a longer one. The “Regular” length sleeves are now renamed “Long” armsleeves. This means that if you previously fit into a “Regular” armsleeve, you would now choose a “Long” length (which is the same sleeve and length with a different name). Since everyone’s arms are different lengths, there really is no “regular” length. So, their decision to rename Regular as Long makes sense to us. The short length measures at 37-44 cm and the long length is 43-56 cm.

More LympheDivas patterns at BrightLife Direct.

To measure the length, start at your wrist, measuring to the top of your arm near the armpit. To measure the circumference of your wrist, measure at the narrowest part. Next, make sure your arm is slightly bent and measure the largest part near your elbow for the forearm measurement. For the bicep measurement, determine your upper arm circumference by measuring at the crease of your armpit (where the top of the armsleeve would be placed).

New LympheDivas Sizing Chart

LympheDivas compression garments are designed in 20-30 and 30-40mmHg, both latex free and silicone free. Armsleeves are available with an optional Diamond Grip-Top Band to keep the garment in place. These sleeves are infused with micro-encapsulated aloe vera and are made from a moisture wicking fabric to keep you comfortable and cool all day long.

SHOP LYMPHEDIVAS

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.

divas-blog-giveaway-lookbook

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

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!

juzo-soft-bc-giveaway

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

Beat the Heat with these Summer Health Tips

 

It is important to take care of your body, especially in the warmer months. Whether you’re heading to the pool, going camping or getting some exercise outside, we have tons of tips to keep you healthy and comfortable all summer long. Plus, check out some of the best skin care products and how to stay cool in the hottest weather.

The Basics

  1. Hydrate! The more water you drink, the easier it is for your body to regulate its temperature.
  2. Wear loose clothing to avoid overheating and to make you more comfortable.
  3. Avoid salty foods to prevent dehydration and swelling.
  4. Skin care is important! Make sure to moisturize your skin multiple times a day.
  5. Wear compression stockings while traveling and take frequent breaks on long trips to walk around.
  6. Stay in the shade as much as possible and don’t forget your sunscreen!

Skin Care

During the summer months, it’s important to protect your skin from the sun and moisturize frequently. If you have lymphedema, getting sunburn can damage your lymphatic system, resulting in overly sensitive skin. Make sure to apply sunscreen before heading out, but try to avoid applying it to areas covered by your compression garment. Suntan lotion can cause the material to deteriorate faster and can irritate the skin underneath the garment. You should also put on bug spray to avoid infections, cuts and discomfort. Try to use natural bug spray to eliminate unwanted chemicals such as DEET on your skin. If you do get bit, make sure to carefully wash and dry the area and apply a hydrocortisone cream.

“If you are going camping or hiking, be sure to take along a specialized first aid kit. The kit should include alcohol wipes to clean off any skin break, antibiotic cream for application on the skin, and bandages to protect the area.” – National Lymphatic Network

If you have dry or cracked skin, try using Remedy Skin Repair Cream. It is non-allergenic and great for those with diabetes or sensitive skin. If you are looking for a cream that won’t clog your pores, isn’t greasy and can be used with compression garments, try the Cutimed ACUTE Cream Mouse to moisturize your skin. It is perfect for people with diabetes, lymphedema or those with damaged skin. It is available in three different strengths, depending on what you need. For an everyday lotion that is also safe for compression garments, apply Medi Day Gel. This fast absorbing gel makes it easier to get your compression stockings on without the greasy residue.

Comfort is Key

During the summer, make sure to wear loose clothing to stay cool and to avoid restricting the flow of your lymphatic system. One of the most important things when you’re out in the sun is to wear comfortable shoes. Check out the new Dr. Comfort summer shoes for men and women. They are great for those with diabetes, plantar fasciitis or sensitive feet. They provide additional cushioning and shock absorption to keep you comfortably on your feet all day long. Nothing’s worse than tired feet halfway through the day!

Summer is one the best times for traveling, but it can also be the most uncomfortable. Whether you are flying, driving or traveling by train, make sure to wear your compression stockings! Sitting for long periods of time is bad for circulation and can lead to fatigue, swelling and more serious complications. If you are driving, make sure to use the air conditioning and stop as much as possible to get out and stretch. If you have lymphedema, try to keep your affected limb as elevated as possible. If you take a plane, the lower air pressure can aggravate lymphedema. If you have lower extremity lymphedema, try to get an aisle seat so you have more leg room and can get up to walk around more frequently without the difficulty. If you have lymphedema in your arms, make sure to carry a light carry-on or get a rolling suitcase to avoid heavy lifting. Again, make sure to stay hydrated while traveling!

How to Keep Your Cool in the Summer

If you have lymphedema, you know the importance of staying cool. When you start to feel overheated, try taking a cool shower and elevate the affected limb in an air conditioned place. You can also wrap the limb in a cold, wet towel and elevate it as well. To avoid getting your compression garment wet, the National Lymphatic Network suggests putting a plastic bag between the garment and the wet towel. This avoids skin irritation and damage to the garment. If you have upper extremity lymphedema, check out Lymphedivas. These fashionable compression armsleeves are made with moisture wicking fabric to keep your arm cool and dry. They are lightweight and are infused with aloe vera to soften and moisturize your skin. They are latex and silicone free, and made in America. To stay cool with compression socks, thigh highs or pantyhose, try an open toe stocking. This style is great to wear with sandals or other summer shoes.

It is also important to wash your compression garments daily, especially in the summer. Frequent washing is better for compression stockings because it helps to maintain its effectiveness and prolongs the garments lifespan. Regularly washing compression garments also helps to get rid of dirt and oils that can reduce the effectiveness of the garment and avoids bacteria that can cause skin irritation or other complications. Plus, lotions that aren’t safe for compression can cause the fabric to deteriorate faster.

Diet

Eating healthy is important for more reasons than getting the perfect “beach body.” During the summer, it is vital to avoid salty foods because they can lead to swelling, water retention and bloating. Instead of grabbing a soda and chips, snack on fruits, vegetables and nuts. Make sure to get lots of protein and to eat a big, balanced breakfast to keep your energy up all day long. Avoid foods with lots of carbohydrates and sugar to keep you from craving sweets and junk food. Eat 3-5 small meals throughout the day and make sure you’re not hungry. When you don’t eat enough, your body doesn’t get the nutrients it needs and can lead to fainting, dizziness, exhaustion and fatigue. Most importantly, drink lots of water to give your body the oxygen it needs. Dehydration can cause you to feel overheated, so stay cool with a nice, refreshing glass of water.

Exercise

The summertime is great for exercising and playing sports, but it is important to take it easy. Physical activities you do in the winter won’t affect you as much as they do in the summer because of the heat. Even though you typically run 5 miles in the winter, you may not be able to run as far in the summer. The heat can cause your lymphatic system to “overload”, which is why many people with lymphedema dread the summer months. However, the heat doesn’t have to prevent you from going outside and enjoying yourself, you just have to be more careful. Make sure to exercise for a shorter amount of time and to take a lot of breaks. If your arm or leg starts to ache, hurt or feel irritated in any way, go inside to cool down and elevate the affected limb. This is a sign that your lymphatic system is overloaded.

Swimming is recommended for those with lymphedema. Make sure to moisturize after swimming in the pool to avoid dry skin. Once you are out of the water, remember to put your compression garment or bandages back on as soon as possible. You can use an old garment if you want to swim with one on. Remember to rinse off after swimming and dry completely to avoid infection and skin irritation. If you have lower extremity lymphedema, make sure to wear shoes at the pool whenever you’re not in the water to avoid bacteria or getting cuts or scratches that could get infected. If you have a cut or open wound, it is best to avoid swimming until after it has healed.

Resources

Cool Tips For A Hot Summer – NLN

How to Wear Compression in the Summer – RejuvaHealth

4 Tips To Get Your Legs Ready For Summer

Protect Your Skin From the Sun – American Cancer Society

Diabetes and Summer Safety Tips

Sigvaris Hypoallergenic Skin & Foot Cream

7 Critical Precautions for Summer if You Have Diabetes

How to Prevent Skin Cancer – American Cancer Society

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

National Lymphedema Network #LymphChat on CDT

Yesterday, the National Lymphedema Network (NLN) hosted its first ever #LymphChat on Twitter to discuss treatment and surgical options for people with lymphedema. Special guests Nicole Stout and Dr. Jay Granzow led the discussion covering Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT), compression garments and other treatment options. Nicole Stout is a lymphedema therapist, researcher and NLN board member. Dr. Jay Granzow is a microsurgeon who specializes in the surgical treatment of lymphedema, including Lymphatic Venous Anastomosis (LVA), Vascularized Lymph Node Transfer (VLNT), Suction-Assisted Protein Lipectomy (SAPL) and more. This chat provided great insight as people shared their lymphedema experiences, questions and management tips.

The first topic covered the components of Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT), which is the most common non-invasive lymphedema treatment. CDT is the first thing that the National Lymphedema Network recommends. Overall, a lot of people found CDT to be effective but difficult. Nicole Stout noted that using compression garments and taking good care of yourself can reduce the number of sessions needed. “CDT has many components and requires intervention from a skilled therapist. After treatment, patients keep up with CDT on their own,” she added. Complete Decongestive Therapy has four components: Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD), compression bandaging, skin care and exercise.

Manual Lymph Drainage is a big part of lymphedema care. It is very time consuming, but can make patients feel a lot better. Depending on the patient, some do their MLD routinely, others use pumps at home, and some don’t practice MLD at all. Using compression garments and pump therapy are very beneficial, as well as practicing deep breathing to help stimulate the lymphatic system. Check out this video on manual lymphatic drainage for more information. Remember to stay hydrated before and after MLD to avoid feeling sick or tired.

There are a lot of compression options you can use to manage lymphedema, including elastic/day garments, bandages and bandage alternatives. One #LymphChat participant shared that a custom Juzo armsleeve and glove work well during the day, and wears the JoViPak armsleeve at night. Compression armsleeves help to prevent and treat lymphedema in the arm, but brands like Juzo, JoViPak, and Solaris offer compression garments to treat lymphedema in other body parts – including the legs and trunk area. BrightLife Direct offers tons of brands, colors and compression levels to choose from so you can find the perfect garment for you.

Skin care is also extremely important for Complete Decongestive Therapy and preventing infections. You can also wear silver liners, or compression stockings that are made with silver to fight off bacteria and prevent infections. During the day, you can use Medi Day Gel to moisturize your skin. Apply it before you put on your compression garment to make it easier to don. Don’t worry, this gel will not damage your garments like other lotions may. Some moisturizers break down the material due to the lycra in the garment and reduce its effectiveness and breathability, so make sure you use a garment-friendly gel! Medi Day Gel quickly absorbs into your skin to avoid sticky or greasy residue. At night, you can sooth your legs with Medi Night Creme. It also helps to treat venous insufficiency.

The last component of CDT is exercising, which helps to stimulate the lymphatic system.  Lymphedema patient, Amy Santiago says that opening up the Lymph channels (neck/collar, armpits, stomach and breathing) help her before starting cardio or training. One way to open up these channels before exercising is with Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD). Swimming, yoga and snowshoeing are all great exercises for lymphedema patients.

Towards the end of the #LymphChat, participants discussed surgical treatments for Lymphedema. According to Dr. Jay Granzow, Suction-Assisted Protein Lipectomy (SAPL), Lymphatic Venous Anastomosis (LVA) and Vascularized Lymph Node Transfer (VLNT) are the most effective lymphedema surgeries. SAPL greatly reduces excess volume in chronic lymphedema patients, and is generally performed in later cases when solids accumulate in the leg or arm. Frequently after SAPL, the use of a compression garment allows you to significantly cut down on CDT, or eliminates the need for it altogether. Other patients, usually in the earlier stages of lymphedema, undergo LVA and VLNT due to excess fluid buildup. You can also combine VLNT and LVA after healing from SAPL to treat solid and fluid components. Compression therapy after these procedures are vital.

Dr. Jay Granzow believes that depending on the patient, each type of surgery can be a success, based on the stage they’re in. As Nicole pointed out, “not just any surgeon can perform these surgeries. Special expertise is needed.” There is a limited number of surgeons that are trained in lymphedema surgery. Although most of Dr. Jay Granzow’s patients have had their surgeries covered by insurance, it depends on your insurance plan. To determine if you qualify for surgery, see a surgeon that specializes in these treatments for an evaluation, as well as a lymphedema therapist to figure out what the best treatment options are for you. Click here for more information on SAPL, VLNT and LVA procedures.

On the first Tuesday of every month, the National Lymphedema Network will continue to host a Twitter Chat, so make sure you follow them on Twitter at @lymphnet and include #lymphchat in your tweets to participate! If you think of any other questions that you would like to ask, email nln@lymphnet.org. The next Twitter Chat will be on Tuesday, May 5th, 2015 about lymphedema and exercise. Don’t miss it!

Additional Resources

Chat with us on Twitter! #LymphChat

BrightLife Direct  |  Nicole Stout  |  Dr. Jay Granzow  |  National Lymphedema Network

MANAGING LYMPHEDEMA

For Lymphedema Awareness Month, we are donating to the Lymphatic Education and Research Network (LE&RN) to support the education and research of lymphedema and lymphatic disease. We are working with blogger Britta Vander Linden to make a difference. During the month of March, you can help us donate 1% of the total purchase price to LE&RN by using the coupon code “DONATE” at checkout.

Britta Vander Linden writes an inspiring blog about her experience with lymphedema. She was diagnosed with primary lymphedema when she was 23 years old. Since then, she has juggled a demanding job and keeping up with her blog, Lymphedema Diary.com, in her spare time. She was inspired to start a blog to connect with others struggling with the same illness. Her blog serves as a network for her and her readers to support and comfort one another. “I felt it was time to share my experiences with others in an effort to try to make their life easier. I hoped to make Lymphedema Diary the resource I wish I had when I was first diagnosed.” Each month, thousands of readers spanning across over 100 countries read her blog. Check out her inspiring story and get tips on how to manage lymphedema.

Before she started Lymphedema Diary, Britta turned to local support groups for help, but they didn’t regularly meet and were located at inconvenient places. A lot of them were made up on breast cancer survivors, so she had a hard time connecting with them because she didn’t feel like they were going through the same thing. Once she got involved on social media, she was able to connect with people all around the world to share tips on anything from finding good therapists to lymphedema management.

Her most recent addition to Lymphedema Diary is a new blog series called “A Leg Up: Compression Stocking Tips–What the Doctors Don’t Tell You.” Those with lymphedema use compression garments every day to manage their condition. Britta says, “No matter the difference in type or severity of lymphedema from one person to another, all of us are struggling to deal with compression garments.  I think that’s why the series has been so popular.”

Britta has been a customer with us for about a year because we have all “Four P’s,” or what she refers to as the four key things every stocking dealer should have: people, price, perks and policies. Juzo Soft Pantyhose in 30-40mmHg is her go-to compression garment because of how soft the fabric is, and because they don’t look like compression tights. According to her, the fabric is very susceptible to snags, however. Britta also suggests the Juzo Dynamic Pantyhose for exercising because they are much more durable. The downside is that they aren’t as fashion-friendly as the Juzo Soft pantyhose, and the thickness of the fabric makes it harder to get the stockings off.

Some other things that Britta has found that help her to manage her lymphedema are regular exercise, getting a healthy amount of sleep, eating a low-sodium diet and staying hydrated. “If I don’t keep up on any one of these habits, I feel it in my legs. For exercise, I prefer swimming, yoga and anything that gets me lifting the legs up and down. In the winter, I enjoy snowshoeing.” She developed a few techniques that help keep her legs stay happy and healthy during a long day at work.

Snowshoe

Check out Britta snowshoeing! This is one of her favorite ways to keep lymph fluid flowing in the winter.

When she was first diagnosed, she underwent six weeks of complete decongestive therapy (CDT). Although she is happy that she did this therapy on both of her legs, the process was exhausting. Between waking up early in the morning and the long commute before work, it wasn’t a good long-term solution. Overall, it was beneficial because she learned a lot about lymphedema care. One thing she doesn’t believe helped her was the acupuncture treatments she tried at about the same time.

There are hundreds of millions of people around the world who are suffering from lymphedema, but there is no cure. LE&RN has done an amazing job over the years in the advocacy, research and education of this condition. You can become a member for only $5 a month and help support the cause year-round. March is a very important month for spreading the word about lymphedema. Many doctors and patients do not know what symptoms to look for in the early stages of lymphedema. LE&RN is working to change this through education. Many people are not aware that the most common cause of lymphedema is cancer treatment. The removal of lymph nodes significantly increases your risk, but there are a couple of things that you can do after cancer treatment that can reduce your risk of lymphedema.

 

Click here to read more about what we’re doing for Lymphedema Awareness Month

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March is Lymphedema Awareness Month!

In honor of Lymphedema Awareness Month, BrightLife Direct is donating part of this month’s sales to the Lymphatic Education and Research Network (LE&RN). This organization utilizes education and research to fight lymphedema and lymphatic disease. We are teaming up with lymphedema blogger, Britta Vander Linden to support the cause. Find out more about LE&RN, Britta’s inspiring story, and some of the causes and symptoms of lymphedema below.

Lymphatic Education and Research Network (LE&RN)

Wendy Chaite founded LE&RN when she became frustrated with the lack of resources available for her daughter, who was born with systemic lymphatic disease. This organization is fighting to find a cure for lymphedema, while assisting in the education and research of this condition along the way. Kathy Bates is currently the spokesperson for LE&RN, and recently appeared on The Doctors to talk about her experience with lymphedema. This summer, Kathy is celebrating her birthday by hosting a 5k Run/Walk to Fight Lymphedema and Lymphatic Diseases in Santa Monica, CA on June 28th. There are tons of events you can get involved with to make a difference. If you live on the east coast, check out the 6th Annual Walk on September 19th on the Brooklyn Bridge!

Every day, LE&RN is helping to find the answers that hundreds of millions of people worldwide who are affected by lymphedema are looking for. Check out their website for the latest research, information and events. You can even ask the experts to find the answer you need. LE&RN is dedicated to answering the questions that most doctors can’t. To this day, there is not much information on lymphedema, and LE&RN is actively working to change this.

LEARN_DinnerCheck out Britta (second from left), her husband, Luke (far left), fellow honorees and members of LE&RN’s staff at a LE&RN event last year. She was honored for her remarkable work on her blog, Lymphedema Diary, and also for her years in support of the LE&RN organization.

About Britta

Britta was diagnosed with primary lymphedema in both of her legs when she was 23 years old. When she first found out she had lymphedema, she was panicked and worried. She had questions about her condition that doctors couldn’t figure out the answers to. Instead it was her dad who came to the rescue to find the answers she was seeking. “He is my Lymphedema Hero” she says. More often than not, when someone is diagnosed with lymphedema, they feel like they are left in the dark. Britta defines lymphedema as “a medical condition that many medical professionals cannot diagnose, do not understand, and are incapable of advising patients about, leaving patients to seek guidance from strangers on blogs.” She thinks that anyone with lymphedema can relate to this statement. LE&RN is working to change this by promoting the education of lymphedema to teach people about the symptoms early on, and about how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The same year Brita was diagnosed was the year that LE&RN was founded. Since then, Britta has relied on LE&RN for medical information, resources and hope for a cure. She feels that “LE&RN has done more to put lymphedema on the medical radar and to directly sponsor lymphatic research than any other organization that she is aware.” To this day, LE&RN has done an incredible job of educating and advocating lymphedema.

Although Britta sarcastically describes her condition as mild, it significantly affects her daily life. “I cannot stand up for more than a few minutes without the help of compression stockings.  I begin experiencing pain, swelling, heaviness and sometimes feelings of pins and needles in my legs.  Even when I have the stockings on, I can’t stand for long periods of time.  Lymphedema factors into every aspect of my life –what I wear, how I sleep, when I take a shower, what kind of car I drive, what exercise I do…So no matter the severity level, the effect of lymphedema on a person’s life, self-esteem and pocket book never feels mild.”

About Lymphedema

LE&RN defines lymphedema as “an abnormal collection of high-protein fluid just beneath the skin. This swelling, or edema, occurs most commonly in the arm or leg, but it also may occur in other parts of the body including the breast or trunk, head and neck, or genitals.” The lymphatic system helps to maintain your immune system. It can develop in any area of your body where the lymph nodes are not getting enough lymph, which is the fluid in the tissues that builds up due to abnormal flow. Lymphedema usually begins at the farthest part of your limb such as your hand/wrist or in your foot/ankle. If your limbs feel heavy, swelling occurs, your skin feels tight, or if you experience decreased mobility and flexibility in your foot, ankle, wrist or hand, you should contact your doctor immediately. These symptoms may be the start of lymphedema. If this has happened to you before, do not ignore it! Just because the problem may take a backseat for a while, it doesn’t mean that the issue is solved. There is not enough research at this point in time for doctors to immediately point to lymphedema as the cause. A lot of the time, it takes multiple doctors to figure out the problem. LE&RN is working to teach people about lymphedema to catch it early on.

PRIMARY LYMPHEDEMA – People who have primary lymphedema like Britta are born with an abnormal lymphatic system. Although primary lymphedema is rare, many people are still affected by it. A lot of the time it is hereditary. Primary lymphedema can occur when the lymph nodes form abnormally. This is called congenital lymphedema, or Milroy’s disease. Lymphedema praecox, also known as Meige’s disease, is the most common form of primary lymphedema. It is usually noticed in the lower extremities around puberty, especially in girls, or during pregnancy. Another form of primary lymphedema that occurs around the age of 35 or later is called lymphedema tarda (late-onset lymphedema), which appears in the lower extremities in men and women.

SECONDARY LYMPHEDEMA – When you damage your lymphatic system from trauma, surgery, radiation or infection, secondary lymphedema can occur. This condition is often caused by cancer treatment. Radiation can damage your lymph nodes, which can decrease lymphatic flow. When you are undergoing this type of treatment, make sure to keep an eye out for any changes in skin color, redness or blistering. Secondary lymphedema occurs when the flow of lymph is blocked or altered. When your lymph nodes are removed due to melanoma, colon, prostate/testicular, bladder or breast cancer, your risk of secondary lymphedema significantly increases. Scar tissue can also be a factor.

Treatment & Prevention

While there is no cure for lymphedema, there are a couple of things you can do to reduce discomfort and swelling. Try elevating your limb and keeping it clean and dry to decrease swelling and irritation. Maintaining a healthy weight, eating foods that are high in protein and avoiding salty foods are also important. When you have lymphedema, it is extremely important to stay as active as possible to keep the lymph fluids moving. Do not sit or stand for long periods of time without moving around. If you work at a desk, make sure you wear compression socks! If you have lymphedema in the lower extremities, it is important to wear compression stockings to increase circulation, decrease swelling and discomfort.

After surgery for breast or prostate cancer, avoid injections into the area. You should also try to keep your arm or leg elevated, and do not apply heat. It is also important not to do any heavy lifting with the arm and to avoid constricting the area with tight clothing. Make sure you keep the area protected from injuries and infection. Wear a compression arm sleeve to increase circulation and decrease swelling. LympheDIVAs is an amazing company that makes fashionable compression arm sleeves. The company was founded after two breast cancer survivors decided to change the game and make compression sleeves fun, comfortable and elegant for people who will wear them every day for the rest of their lives. To them, wearing beige, rough textured, bandage-like arm sleeves was a bore. Now, they have tons of cute patterns and colors to choose from! LympheDIVAs also works with LE&RN to promote education and awareness about lymphedema.

Together, We Can Make A Difference

The Lymphatic Education and Research Network has made great strides in lymphedema awareness, education and research. With your help, we can make a difference. During the month of March, Brightlife Direct is donating 1% of the total purchase price to LE&RN. To participate, enter coupon code “DONATE” at checkout. Stay up to date on our blog this month for more information on lymphedema. Comment or share this post and tell us what you are doing for Lymphedema Awareness Month! Special thanks to Britta for her inspiring story and support! Check out her blog below: lymphedema_diary Additional Resources

Lymphatic Education & Research Network

Lymphedema facts, treatments and guidelines

Kathy Bates – Life With Lymphedema

Occupational Therapy Case Study – Primary Lymphedema

Great Lymphedema Blogs and Communities

Compression Products

Juzo

Farrow Medical

LympheDIVAs

Armsleeves

Gloves & Gauntlets

Custom Compression Garments

How We Became Breast Cancer Thrivers

All Lymphedema Products