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.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lymphedema tracking

I'm still being vigilant about tracking the measurements of my arm and hand. I haven't seen my physical therapist for 2 weeks. My last day with her was the last day of radiation. At that time, she cautioned me to keep bandaging, massaging and wearing my compression sleeve while I was healing from radiation. She suggested a follow up appointment in a month.

I've been on my own for a few weeks. I knew what my measurements were on February 17th, my last day of radiation. I also knew what my "best" measurements were since I had been since my lymphedema was triggered. I came home and made a spreadsheet. Every Thursday, Eric helps me measure my hand, wrist, and arm at 5 centimeter intervals. I record them on the spreadsheet and then compare where I am, and where I should be.

I'm thrilled today because all of my measurements were where they should be. In fact, at six points, I beat my "best" measurement! Thank you Jesus!

What am I doing to keep it in control? I've been bandaging every night and wearing the finger to armpit bandages for at least 9 hours every 24 hour period. Frankly, that is getting old. It takes me at least 30 minutes every night to deal with my arm, between the massage and bandaging. I do 2 sessions of manual lymphatic drainage. I've gotten in tune with my body to the point where I can feel the lymph moving in my hand and arm when I do the massage. I also wear my compression sleeve and gauntlet for most of the day, and always wear it while exercising.

Today is a sunny day. I'm wearing a tank top, so I'm going to leave the compression off for the afternoon when I go pick up Isabelle from school. Bring on the Vitamin D!

To be honest, I'm afraid to stop bandaging at night. I would hate to wake up and be swollen up. But with measurements like this, I may be able to ease off on the compression garments during the day.  We'll see. I keep an eye on it and if it gets worse, I'm back in compression. That's my life now.

I'm going to celebrate this afternoon by getting my first pedicure in months. With chemo, I was advised not to get pedicures because of the risk of infection.  Plus, I lost a toenail from the taxotere. It has grown back a little bit, so I'm not that embarrassed by it anymore. I'm going to get the full-on European spa pedicure with all the bells an whistles!  Yay!

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