Laurie Houck

lymphedema, swimming, NLN, lymphedema ambassador, Laurie Houck, athlete, exercise, advocate
I was diagnosed with primary bilateral lymphadema at age 7. Luckily for me, my mother knew what to look for since she exhibited it as well. It really crushed her however, when my brother was also diagnosed with it at age 15.
My brother and I managed it quite differently for many years: I tried to find out more about it and did everything diligently; he tried ignoring it.  Years later, I am not fighting it so hard -- accepting it is part of me and realizing it may limit some things I do -- while he is taking care of his body. We have both landed in the hospital numerous times with raging cellulitis and now carry letters with instructions about the IV treatment we need. We both travel for work and take extra precautions to stay healthy. We both swim and exercise daily, and are proud of what we are able to accomplish in life despite the small speed bumps posed by lymphadema. 
I am a former competitive swimmer (there is nothing better for lymphadema in my book then swimming and water polo!) and former collegiate rower; I did sprint triathlons in my 20s; and now I swim in open water races and am training for a swim/bike race.
A healthy life style -- from getting enough sleep to eating right and definitely exercising -- allows me to get the most out of my challenging career, my busy family life, and my love of the outdoors.
With a supportive family, intentionality about eating and other lifestyle habits, trial and error, good advice, and simply taking care of myself, I have been lucky enough to maintain a life that is active and enjoyable.