A couple years ago, two women named Rachel and Robin created a new product – a compression sleeve that they and their friends would be willing to wear to control their lymphedema, swelling in the arms caused by the removal of lymph nodes during a mastectomy. They started a company called LympheDIVAs; Rachel’s brother Josh and their parents continued to improve the product and market it to other breast cancer survivors after her death.
Carole lost her cousin Crickett to metastatic breast cancer too, but instead of wailing at the universe, Carole and her aunt Bonnie set up a foundation to help other breast cancer survivors feel good about themselves again. Carole sent an email offering help to survivors, and one copy landed in Sue‘s in-box.
Sue forwarded the email to me, offering me the opportunity to be pampered a little, because she knew I was suffering from chemotherapy again, and it touched my heart. My heart was kinda busy, though, because my physical therapist Jonelle had mentioned casually while working on the lymphedema in my arm that it was so great that I was wearing a lymphedema sleeve to control it — many of her patients couldn’t afford one. When I arrived home and checked my in-box, there was the opportunity to make a connection and to fix this wrong that lay on my heart — to help others have what I have, the opportunity to control this medical condition at home, without weekly trips to the physical therapist.
Three phone calls later, Josh and Carole agreed to provide donated lymphedema sleeves to patients in need, and the lymphedema sleeve project was on. The problem then was how to make people aware of the opportunity, so Sue and I sent a couple emails and a few tweets and then The DC Moms and twitter friends and blog friends and friends of friends stepped up to help, to spread the word, one tweet, one post, one update, one person at a time.
I wrote a post, Sue wrote a post, Minky wrote a post, and the news gained traction. Over 100 people tweeted the links that week. 150 people shared a link on Facebook. Over 40 bloggers added their posts to ours, in attempt to saturate the internet with the news, so that a woman in need, searching for help to afford lymphedema sleeves or other post-mastectomy gear, could find it.
Kristen, Jessica, Amie, Joanne, Marty, Victoria, and Elizabeth then put their money where their voice is and donated $1/comment on their lymphedema post. Others went to donate so that additional sleeves could be bought as needed, and before we knew it, $1518 had been sent to Crickett’s Answer for Cancer by over 20 people, and 36 new breast cancer survivors were helped in the first 40 days.
On Friday, the project was recognized by Bloganthropy, with me named as January’s Blogger of the Month. Thank you, Bloganthropy, but the award really belongs to all of the bloggers who helped saturate this part of the ‘net with notices that there is now help available for breast cancer survivors who need but can’t afford compression sleeves to control their lymphedema.
Thank you, friends. Every day, your actions remind me that there is indeed good in the world. Here are the posts that were written in support of this effort, and tweeted ’round the world:
Ann Bibby: http://www.care2.com/causes/health-policy/blog/-blogger-reaches-out-to-breast-cancer-patients/
BlogHer (Mel): http://www.blogher.com/start-out-your-new-year-helping-great-project?wrap=blogher-topics/conditions-ailments&crumb=32399
C. Mom: http://www.lacaramamma.com/2011/01/06/can%E2%80%99t-afford-lymphedema-sleeves/
Crunchy Chewy Mama: http://crunchychewymama.com/index.php/when-a-friend-gets-cancer/
Dr. Kathleen Ruddy: http://breastcancerbydrruddy.com/2011/01/25/recycling-information-help-for-lymphedema/
Elizabeth: http://halfchangedworld.com/2011/01/for-whymommy/ Florinda: http://www.3rsblog.com/2011/01/for-whymommy-help-for-cancer-survivors.html
Garza Girl: http://www.garzagirls.com/2011/01/24/f-off-cancer/ and http://www.garzagirls.com/tag/whymommy/
Justice Stacey: http://mamalaw.com/2011/01/cant-afford-lymphedema-sleeves/
Marty: http://canapesun.blogspot.com/2011/01/lymphedema-sleeves-for-every-survivor.html and http://canapesun.blogspot.com/2011/01/lets-all-be-copycats-raising-money-for.html
Mayberry Mom: http://mayberrymom.com/2011/02/04/on-not-fighting-alone/
Michele: http://scrapsofmygeeklife.com/everything-else /cant-afford-lymphedema-sleeves/
ThisFullHouse @ Wellsphere: http://www.wellsphere.com/parenting-article/for-whymommy-give-cancer-the-virtual-bitchslap-it-deserves/1325109
This effort was recognized by writers at the American Cancer Society, Bloganthropy, BlogHer, Care2, Mom Blog Magazine, and ShePosts as being an exciting community effort. Thank you all. And if I missed your post or it hasn’t gone up yet? Let me know. I’d be thrilled to add even more!