Lymphoedema is thought to affect more than 200,000 people in the UK. Described as a long-term condition that causes swelling in the body’s tissues, it can affect any part of the body, but usually develops in the arms or legs.
The lymphoedema team at St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth, led by Cheryl Brown along with practitioners Annabel Sansom and Jo Vella, provide care and encourage self management to patients dealing with lymphoedema through specialist education and treatment, allowing them to manage their condition on a daily basis.
Roland, aged 37 from Downderry in Cornwall had never heard of lymphoedema. That was until last year when he became affected by it following surgery to remove a cancerous tumour. He says:
“In 2016 I had a diagnosis of skin cancer, which was quite a large tumour in my groin. When the tumour was removed they had to take some of the lymph nodes out. This resulted in the lymph fluid not been able to drain from my body properly in my right leg.”
Fiancé Gemma Turner added:
“After the surgery, my fiancé had an appointment with Jo at St Luke’s to determine if he had lymphoedema and the severity of it. Lymphoedema came as a shock to me. I am an eternal optimist and in my mind, the tumour was out and that was that, so after speaking to Jo and finding out his condition was forever, was a shock.”
“I have to admit, I did know what to expect before our first meeting with Jo. I had never been to St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth and I was expecting quite a depressing place. I was relieved to be completely wrong about that.”
“We sat in the café admiring the views and spotting all the Plymouth landmarks while waiting for the appointment. Jo was lovely, we were both nervous and she put us at ease immediately, explained everything she was doing and gave us so much more information about the condition and how to manage it. We left feeling much more confident about the future.”
Roger now wears a stocking which he visits the hospice to get checked. The stocking enables lymph fluid to be pushed out of the body so his systems and skin stay healthy.
He explains how helpful the team has been:
“The nurses have been fantastic at giving me solutions that work for me. I know quite often some of the patients they work with are older than I am and have not got chunky legs like I have. They have had issues to get the stockings to fit correctly and stay up, but they do not just stop and say put up with what you have got, they keep measuring and adjusting to find solutions.”
“In the past I have always donated to St Luke’s. To actually see where the money is going and what it is doing is really powerful. So if you have a friend or a relative that needs to come here for treatment, maybe volunteer to bring them up. There is a really nice café, great view of Plymouth and it might just help you understand where your money is going and where that support helps.”
For more information visit St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth lymphoedema team