Compression and Lymphedema: The Key to My Freedom

Compression and Lymphedema: The Key to My Freedom


Authored by Lynda Ouellet @lynda.ouellet.9

How I regained my freedom thanks to compression

The weight of words can sometimes overshadow the burden we carry physically. Since I was diagnosed with arm lymphedema following breast cancer surgery, my life has taken an unexpected turn. The feeling of heaviness, the constant swelling and the increased risk of infection have become part of my daily routine. Yet, in the midst of these challenges, I discovered an invaluable ally in my fight against lymphedema: compression. I'm intimately familiar with this reality. Lymphedema, that unwelcome companion that invites itself without warning, not only deforms my body, but also threatens my freedom of movement.

As soon as I was diagnosed with lymphedema, it was explained to me that CDT (complete decongestive therapy) is a multidimensional treatment program aimed at reducing my fluid accumulation and improving my lymphatic function. It includes several key components to relieve symptoms and improve my quality of life: compression, manual lymphatic drainage (MLD), exercise, skin care and self-management.

However, at the heart of this battle lies an unlikely ally: compression. For me, complete decongestive therapy, with its faithful companion, compression garments, represents much more than a simple medical constraint. It's a symbol of freedom regained, despite the apparent drawbacks.

Wearing compression garments every day can seem like a sentence, a constraint that weighs heavily on my already tired shoulders. But it can also be a laughing matter some days: "Mum's excited". The feeling of being squeezed into the sleeve, while beneficial, can be oppressive. However, the freedom regained thanks to compression goes far beyond mere functionality. It's also a question of self-esteem and acceptance. These garments, far from being signs of weakness, are witnesses to my inner strength, to my determination not to let this condition defeat me.



Some might see compression as an impediment to freedom of movement. But for me, it's just the opposite.


Thanks to these compression garments, I've regained mobility because lymphatic fluids are controlled, preventing build-up. I can go about my daily activities, taking care of myself and my family, without being constantly slowed down by swelling and discomfort. These garments become my wings, allowing me to soar above the limitations imposed by my condition.


What's more, this sleeve gives me protection. Since it's over my skin, it protects me from any scratches or cuts I might make. Something I avoid as much as possible, when you have lymphedema, I have to take care of my skin (by creaming and protecting it) because that can mean infectious cellulitis for me, and thus make my lymphedema go even further out of control. And also protection in the sense that since I choose colored sleeves, I pay more attention to my arm and it helps me avoid bumping into things or people snagging my arm.

However, the freedom regained thanks to compression goes far beyond simple physical mobility. It's also a question of self-esteem and self-confidence. In a world where appearance is often judged, lymphedema can be a source of shame and isolation. But when I wear my compression garments, I refuse to hide. I chose Bauerfeind because, firstly, they made me feel more comfortable and, secondly, their collection of colors means I can have fun with my choice of colorful sleeves. I refuse to let other people's eyes dictate my worth. Instead, I celebrate my body and its resilience. I choose to be proud of who I am, and by showing my sleeve instead of hiding it, I allow others to feel less ashamed of this self-imposed condition.

Of course, there are days when compression seems more of a curse than a blessing. Hot summer days when sweat sticks to my skin, moments when the seams seem to itch harder than usual, or moments when the thought of putting on compression seems suffocating. But even in those moments, I find the strength to persevere. Because freedom isn't always easy, but it's always worth it.

Complete decongestive therapy, with its compression pillar, is not just a medical treatment. It's a philosophy of life. It's an affirmation of my own worth, my own freedom. Through compression, I find the power to control my destiny, to define my own history. I refuse to be a victim of my condition; I am a fighter, a survivor. It's not for nothing that my favorite photo is this one:

Bauerfeind, through its model Curaflow, was able to set me free. It's not for nothing that I chose this company for my daily compression garment. I chose a seamless glove that doesn't hurt between my fingers. Even if I say that the sleeve is hot in summer, the Curaflow is still a model that lets the skin breathe. I sweat much less with this model, which means that my lymphedema doesn't increase as much despite the heat, as it does with those from other companies.
So, yes, compression can be uncomfortable, sometimes even painful. But in every tight seam, in every compression band, I find the key to my freedom. And it's in this struggle, in this resilience, that I discover the true meaning of freedom. Freedom that's not measured in centimetres, but in inner strength, courage and self-acceptance.


I choose to wear compression like a banner. For it is in this constraint that I find my greatest freedom: the freedom to be myself, fully and unreservedly.
Some days I feel like a compression goddess, ready to defy the laws of fashion and gravity with my compression sleeves. It's as if I were wearing my own fishnet stockings, but the medical version! My colorful sleeves have become my best fashion accessories, matching my outfits like sparkling jewels. After all, who says compression can't be chic and elegant? Maybe one day we'll see them on the cover of fashion magazines?

To conclude, I'd like to say that just because you have lymphedema doesn't mean that life stops. On the contrary, you have to keep on enjoying life with your fingertips.

About Lynda

Lynda Ouellet is a breast cancer survivor and a Lymphedema activist from Quebec, Canada who is passionate about empowering others and spreading awareness!

For more on Lynda's lymphedema journey follow her on social!

Facebook: @lynda.ouellet.9

Instagram: @lynda_ouellet

TikTok: @lynda_ouellet