The first of the year is a time for making new starts, and writing thank you notes from the holidays. Today’s post is a thank you note to Lymphedivas, the company that makes lymphedema sleeves fashionable and fun. Without their product, it would have been much harder for me to go out in public the last few years.
My name is Susan Niebur, and I’m a 37-year-old inflammatory breast cancer survivor with two young children. After my double mastectomy in January 2007, my right arm began to swell and develop lymphedema. I wore the recommended sleeve and glove everywhere, but I was often greeted with looks of dismay as friends and former associates asked me, “What on Earth happened to your arm?” When I dutifully answered that I had had inflammatory breast cancer, had a mastectomy, and now wear these sleeves, yes, for the rest of my life, the questioners would react strongly, and conversation would be difficult. I didn’t like going out to meet new people anymore, and I stuck close to friends when we did.
Then I found Lymphedivas. Skeptical that something so thin and pretty could work as well as the heavy-duty knit glove I wore, I bought a single style – the black paisley sleeve and gauntlet. From the very first night I wore it out with the girls, I’ve been greeted not with “Oh, no, what happened to you?” but with “Oooh, that’s so pretty! I love it!” and smiles. I’m now the happy owner of four different styles, and I love matching them to my outfit or accentuating a simple black or white tee with my beautiful sleeves.
When I had a recurrence earlier this year, the first thing I did after agreeing to treatment was to call Lymphedivas and order matching sleeves for my left arm. This time, I would go through treatment in style!
The picture above is of my blogging friends and me speaking at a panel at Blogher 2010. I gave this talk – and a keynote, where I spoke out about breast cancer just like I do on my blog, Toddler Planet, – wearing the YSC sleeve and glove on my right and the bei chic sleeve and glove on my left. And, just as always, I got gentle hugs and many, many compliments. Thank you, Lymphedivas, for turning a needed medical sleeve into a fashion statement that helps me move beyond cancer and go out again, with confidence.