People would do double takes when they saw Sharne Willoughby. It was one reason she found excuses to stay home.
The primary school teacher had been diagnosed with cervical cancer when the youngest of her six children was two years old. She beat the disease, but said what afflicted her afterwards was worse.
Ms Willoughby developed secondary lymphoedema. Commonly caused by the lymph nodes being removed or damaged during cancer treatment, it leads to a build-up of lymph fluid and painful swelling, often in the arms or legs.
Without access to regular therapy, her condition worsened over 10 years until her affected left leg weighed 12.5 kilograms more than her right. She could not work full time, move easily, wear shoes, dress normally. She sometimes wondered if she’d be better off having her leg amputated.
“There was absolutely nothing I did that wasn’t in some way impacted by the lymphoedema,” she said. “It was debilitating, both physically and emotionally. I felt so uncomfortable physically, and felt uncomfortable around other people.”
Ms Willoughby, now 46, had focused on overcoming the cancer. “It was a kick in the teeth to be told you’re going to be living with this chronic condition as a consequence,” she said. “I had a lot more information and support around the cancer, that was really quite easy. But there’s nobody to talk to about your lymphoedema. GPs are quite dismissive. And because no one wants to show it, it’s quite a secret problem to have. People keep it hidden.” …Read More>>
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald