About this blog

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on June 11, 2010. As a result of my treatment, I have lymphedema in my left arm. I draw my strength from the Lord, as well as my family's Scots-Irish heritage. Our Graham's were a tough and scrappy bunch of fighters on the Scottish/English border. They came to America and continued to fight when necessary: in the American Revolution; the Civil War; and my brother is a Captain in the U.S. Army. My ancestors settled this country against all odds. My great-grandmothers on both sides of the family were pioneer women who settled the West. Along with that heritage, and the full armor of God, I am walking the walk and fighting the good fight.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Mixed news

I went in for my second physical therapy appointment in as many days. We took off the layers of bandage to see how my arm and hand looked. To me, they looked puffy and wrinkly. But being taped up will do a little of that. We measured my hand, wrist and arm in various places and compared them. My hand measured smaller than yesterday by .5 c.m. Yeah! That is good news. My lower arm was still the same. Bummer. Looking at all of my measurements since September, there is a definite upward trend, which is not good. The bottom line is that I need to learn how to do the bandaging, get some of my own and monitor my arm and hand for the rest of my life.When it gets big, its time to wrap it up.  I'll always need to be careful of changes in elevation, travel and other things that may trigger swelling.

My therapist had me wash my arm in the bathroom and did another round of manual drainage.  She watched me doing some of it and said I was doing it right.  That was good to know. Then she re-wrapped my arm, using a different wrap technique.  I'll wear the wrap until tomorrow morning (Saturday).  Then I can take it off and wear my compression sleeve until Monday, taking it off at night.  Hopefully today's bandage will bring the swelling down and the compression sleeve will keep the size where it is until I see her on Monday.  I have appointments with her Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday for the next two weeks.  She wants me to bring Eric in so he can learn the wrapping technique so he can help me.  It's kind of difficult to bandage your own arm.  Even if it is the left arm.  Eric is out of the country until Tuesday night, so he'll come with me on Wednesday.

Todays wrap is more uncomfortable.  Even typing with my left hand is tiring.  I went to the gym after my appointment and couldn't hold onto the handle of the elliptical for very long.  For anyone thinking that exercising out with this is bad, its just the opposite. She said working out with the bandage on is one of the best things to do.  I'm supposed to use the arm as normally as possible.  But just moving is difficult.  I'm going to wear this bandage tonight as long as I can.  Hopefully I can stick it out until tomorrow morning.  If it gets too bad, she said I can take the top layer off.

The allergic reaction has caused swelling all over my body.  My mom said my face even looks a little swollen. I "weigh in" every Friday and the scale showed an increase of 3 pounds in one week.  I just know that is water and fluid retention.  There's no way I gained 3 pounds from pigging out and slacking off.  I need to get this fluid out.  My therapist recommended drinking lots of water.  I can do that.  If I can address the issue all over, it should help in my left arm as well.

The kids are out of school for Christmas vacation.  They are very happy to have 2 weeks off from school.  This fall has been hard for them.  They are doing great academically. I'm amazed at how well they've done in the face of my drama.  But it has been hard for them to hold it together.  It will be good for them to have some time off.  I need to try and downplay my lymphedema issues so they don't worry.  Besides, I'm ticked off at it to the point where I say, "Screw you, lymphedema! I'm going to live my life and enjoy doing it!"  I still have some Christmas shopping and errands to do.  Having so many therapy appointments will make that a little more difficult, but such is life.  At least mine right now.

My prayer request is for this swelling.  That the bandaging be effective to bring the swelling down.  Better yet, that God just heal my arm and hand of this condition.


  1. Tonya, I'm sorry you're dealing with this side effect. I'll pray about that. My mil is still dealing with neuropathy from her chemo this past year. Would epsom salt baths help? just as they would to bring down swelling in pregnancy? I don't know, just a thought. Hugs. Jenny

  2. I agree with your mom, I could see the swelling in your face in your "mummified" picture.

    Hopefully this will pass soon, as edema often does, and esp once you get past any lingering effects from the allergic reaction to the Cipro.

    I am thinking of you!!