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.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Our family just spent the Memorial Day weekend in San Francisco. It was the first family trip that we have done since my diagnosis. In fact, it may very well be the first one we've done since Jean-Marc was born almost 3 years ago.  Each family member has their own interests and activities that keep them (and me) busy. But we don't do that much together as a family. We manage to eat most meals as a family, but as far as activities go, we aren't together that much. This trip was something that we did as a group and we will definitely have many fond memories of our time in the City by the Bay.  We had a wonderful time and were able to fill each day to the fullest while there.
Jean-Marc, "Little Guy" and I are ready for our flight!

It was the first time I traveled by airplane since my lymphedema. Changes in altitude, especially extreme ones like air travel, can trigger lymphedema. I wasn't sure how to approach it. It is a short flight, so I wasn't too concerned about my arm ballooning up. But I wanted to see how travel would affect me, and was ready for anything.

On the flight up, I just wore my compression sleeve and gauntlet. Part way through the flight, I thought my fingers looked kind of puffy. I switched my wedding rings to my right hand just in case, so they wouldn't get stuck. It could have all been in my head, too.  But better safe than sorry.  I stayed in my compression wear all afternoon until we got to the hotel.  That night, I did a good session of manual drainage and wrapped my arm and hand in bandages.

Over the next couple days, I repeated this pattern.  Compression all day, bandaging at night. I'll admit though, the last night, I just bandaged without doing the manual drainage. We had a long and very physical day. I was just to tired.

Our flight home left early Monday morning, so I just left the bandages on for the flight home. I wasn't sure how TSA was going to treat me with my arm like that.  I had heard horror stories of other breast cancer survivors who had to go through some uncomfortable screening moments with their prosthetic breasts. Here I was adding a wrapped arm on top of two foobies!   In the end, it wasn't a big deal. They did segregate me and swab my arm for explosives, then they kind of did a pat down of the arm to make sure there wasn't anything in there.  No full body scan or patdown or anything like that.

Overall, my arm seems to have made it just fine. I do need to take some measurements and compare it to last week's "pre-flight" numbers. But just looking at my arm, it seems not to have changed much. That is a relief. It also was a good trial run for our longer trip this summer to France. That is a good 12 hour flight.  On top of that, we'll probably be met with pretty warm temperatures, which is another trigger.

I'm curious for followers out there who also have experience travelling with lymphedema. What do you do to minimize the effects?

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