I’ve had no really bad side effects luckily, until about I think it was two years ago I tripped over in the garden and my arm swelled and it was lymphoedema. Now I think some poor people can get this when they’ve had radiotherapy, and I’ve been very fortunate that it’s taken, must be I suppose fourteen years for it to affect me. But with exercise and wearing a sleeve that’s under control, and I think that’s probably been the worst side effect that I’ve had to suffer. So I’ve been very fortunate.
Can you talk me through a bit about how you realised what it was and where you went to sort of find out what it was?
Right. Well, I just thought my arm had swollen quite badly because I had fallen over and landed on that side. The doctor took a different view and said because of my history I ought to be checked out, and he immediately sent me to see [name] the oncologist. And she then said, “Well, because of your history, once again, you ought to have an MRI scan.” She was very reassuring and said, “I don’t think it’s anything sinister, but to be sure.” And that’s what I did. And as soon as the results came that nothing sinister had happened on the MRI scan I was sent to see a woman who deals, she has a lymphoma clinic.
And it’s at the community hospital in [town] and I can call in whenever I want to. So she’s a good point of call as well actually and she gave me a massage to do, and these awful elasticated sleeves, which are very uncomfortable in the summer but because I didn’t want a big fat arm I kept going with the massage and, touch wood, it has gone down considerably and I don’t always have to wear the elastic sleeve. So, positive.
So you didn’t enjoy wearing that sleeve?
No, only because it was uncomfortable, you know, but it gave masses of support and I didn’t stop doing anything. At the clinic I was told, “Oh, well. If you want to get out of ironing now is the time.” But I’m determined, I don’t want to, I want to do everything I always do.
Just going back to sort of the lymphoedema, which I know…
…you’ve talked a bit about, but I just wanted to touch on one last thing. Is there anything that your GP can now be doing to help with the lymphoedema, or are you still experiencing any problems with it?
Well, I really, he wouldn’t be the one. I would go to the woman at the lymphoedema clinic because, once again, I’ve got her number and this is national health actually, so I have her number and I could have an appointment normally within the week. So, you know, that’s a pretty good service that’s offered. And if I need more sleeves or anything, if I’ve been decorating and got paint all up them and stuff, she’ll send me some new ones. And I mean she made me feel gloomy at first because she said I would always, I’d never get rid of the swelling, and it was huge. It was quite a big, you know, arm, so that was a bit of, a bit depressing but because I thought, “I’m not going to put up with this. I’m jolly well going to do this massage.” And I did it twice a day and I never missed. I’ve been a bit naughty just recently because, of course, it isn’t so swollen, but if I do feel it tightening or anything I immediately start those massages and they do work. So yeah, so she gave me very good advice.