Bates’s “coming out” about lymphedema begs the question: Why aren’t more people talking about lymphedema? Roughly 10 million Americans suffer from lymphedema, and breast cancer survivors have about a 50% chance of developing the disease. This is not a rare occurrence, and yet so many of us haven’t even heard of it, while so many others who have it are afraid to talk about it.
Let’s not let stigma keep us from talking about the real problems in our lives. Discussion could be the first step toward better treatments for lymphedema, or perhaps a cure.
While there’s no way to get rid of lymphedema at this time, Bates says losing weight and going to physical therapy has helped. She also limits her salt and alcohol consumption and stays out of the heat.