Today I’d like to introduce you to another truly inspirational lymphie with a powerful mindset! Her name is Sara, and her Instagram account is @thepragmaticlymphatic. This title caught my eye right away. Sara is a passionate and genuinely incredible person. Over the years, she has found and developed methods for improving her self-care routine. This ability was enabled by increasing her capacity to find empathy and love towards herself and others with chronic conditions and aim toward acceptance of life with lymphedema. She has found that a chronic unfortunate diagnosis like lymphedema is much less limiting once you give yourself some of your life’s time and energy to supply proper self-care and compassion. Here’s her story; enjoy!
MIND OVER MATTER
“What is mind over matter when you have a body with lymphedema or other chronic illnesses? With the condition that intertwines with your life for so long – it’s a part of who you are, even if that means a daily fight against it.” This first line of one of Sara’s Instagram posts drew me to her story about her lymphedema and how she deals with it. This beautiful young woman has been dealing with lymphedema for most of her life as she has primary lymphedema.
Sara first noticed her leg swelling around the time she hit puberty at 12 years old. Her family has a history of lymphedema, but she was unaware of this at the time. Sara’s father was a polygamist and had 17 children. Her full biological brother also showed signs of lymphatic swelling throughout puberty and into adulthood. Her father’s first wife, who raised and cared for her, was not her biological mother. However, she saw Sara’s swelling and knew it was not a good sign. She would not stop until she figured out a diagnosis and took Sara to a geneticist and dermatologist, and finally, a specialist who diagnosed her with lymphedema.
Around this same time, her first mom was diagnosed with colon cancer. While undergoing chemotherapy and so much more, she continued Sara’s diagnosis journey with her. Even though they didn’t always have a perfect relationship, they continued to help and support each other through this difficult time. She did all she could for her health and the entire family’s health and well-being. Then when Sara was 16, her first mom died of cancer she had fought so hard to overcome. It was incredibly hard for Sara to accept that she would have to continue without her.
LEARNING TO LOVE HER BODY
However, Sara is determined not to let her mother’s efforts to help her become a healthy, happy, and confident woman go in vain. Sara stated, “My mom and my siblings are a huge part of why I tried my hardest to learn to love my body. I nudged myself for many years with kinder and more empathetic thoughts, and I finally have come to a place of loving my body and myself. Eventually, I started seeing my lymphie leg as a leg that required extra attention, patience, and nurturing and not a horrible, ugly, unfair thing that I was mean to.”
SHOWING UP FOR HERSELF
“Now, I show up for myself and my little lymphie leg by prioritizing future Sara and her needs each evening. This body does so much, and I love her for it. But, unfortunately, she can’t go hard all the time. I love high-intensity training and fitness because it is one of the most stress-relieving and best things for my mental health,” Sara continued. With a full-time job, many moves, and adult stressors, it is still challenging for her to set aside time for stretching, checking in, and finding peace in the day. But it is absolutely essential even for none lymphies to avoid burnout by respecting how much our bodies want to gain strength from all these stressors and high-impact workouts and challenges we confront. So, she attempts to show up for herself by respecting when it is time to take it easy.
RECOVERY & REST
Sara says, “If you or anyone else needs a reminder – sometimes our bodies become overwhelmed with infection or sickness. That is when focusing all our strength on elevating, recovery, and fueling right is our ‘going hard.’ Having lymphedema doesn’t mean I am a weak person. Recovery and rest have been some of the hardest lessons to learn as an adult. We are complicated creatures that can look good but feel terrible or look awful but feel amazing. I’ve learned to watch David Goggins only a little if I’m supposed to take it easy; if your body is going in and out of cycles of aching and fatigue – it probably is not the time to be inspired for a run, but instead some solid sleep. Remember, you absolutely can continue loving your life ♥️ even if you aren’t going as hard as you can every day.”
THE STRENGTH TO CARRY ON
“Lymphedema reminds me to be more aware of beautiful moments, triumphant moments, and the circular dizzying, stressful, confusing moments that let me know change is necessary. This condition has taught me that I don’t need anyone to convince me I am worthy. It has been the fuel that keeps me going and the ability to accept this body with gratitude. This heavily stemmed from my mom’s adamant concern about getting me diagnosed and my many infections. Although she is no longer here, I find the strength to care for myself on many days as a small tight hugged “thank you” to her for noticing how much discomfort it was causing me, even while she was battling cancer. I aim to have that capacity she showed me and all of her children in my heart, mind, and body for myself now.”
Disclaimer – This blog is for general information purposes only. Furthermore, the information in this blog is not a substitute for medical advice – always consult a licensed healthcare professional for advice on your specific condition.