Sydney Matheson



Primary Lymphedema, diagnosed at age 16

My journey with lymphedema started when I was a sophomore in high school in 2013. I had just turned 16, and the school year was almost over. I was in the locker rooms changing into my gym clothes when I realized my right ankle was a little swollen. It seemed a bit odd that is was swollen because I hadn't twisted it, and I wasn't feeling any pain. I showed my mom when I got home and we agreed that it would probably go down in a couple days, but as the days passed the swelling remained. After about a week or two we decided it was probably time to see a doctor. When we did, he had no idea what was causing the inflammation, so I spent the next several months seeing doctors and specialists all over Southern California trying to figure it out.

I was finally diagnosed with Primary Lymphedema at the start of my junior year. When I was diagnosed, they told me I would have to live with Lymphedema the rest of my life—I became very depressed. I had to see a physical therapist a few times a week to learn how to manage my condition, but it just seemed to be getting worse and worse. The compression garments weren't holding me, and the exercises weren't affecting my ever-growing leg. As a few more months passed, I received my wrapping kit and began my daily trips to the physical therapists for wrapping. This lasted for a couple of months—because I was still in high school, I was not the best patient. I didn't want to go to school with my leg wrapped because I was afraid of what people would think, so I would take off the wrapping before I went to school and put on my compression garment. By the time I got home, the swelling would already be back to what it was before I wrapped it. Luckily, my mom had learned how to wrap my leg, so, over the winter holiday, she wrapped my leg everyday faithfully and I was eventually able to get fitted for a custom made compression garment.

Since then, I have grown so much as a person. I realize now how extremely lucky I have been. I have had so many resources that many others simply just don't have. Through the years I learned to manage my lymphedema as best as I could. I wore my compression garments every day, wrapped my leg when I could, and more importantly I learned to be happy again! I learned to not let Lymphedema control me, and that is when I could truly move forward.

Even though I have learned all of these things, this still isn't the life I had imagined for myself, as anyone could understand, and that is why I decided to have a lymph-node transfer. I just had my surgery on January 12, 2016 so I am in the middle of healing, but I believe that the hard part is almost over, and I will be better off for having gone through with it. If you would like to read more about how the surgery went or get in contact with me feel free to visit my blog at  .