March 6th, World Lymphedema Day is celebrated and at Woman'sBack®, we want to give visibility and importance to one of the most important side effects of breast cancer treatment.
Lymphedema is an abnormal accumulation of fluid in soft tissue due to an obstruction in the lymphatic system. Lymphedema occurs when the lymphatic system is unable to drain lymph properly and as a consequence causes inflammation due to fluid accumulation in the white tissues of the body.
The relationship between breast cancer and lymphedema is very close. Surgery in the armpit, which is sometimes necessary to treat breast cancer, in many cases lymph nodes are removed, and that is where the risk of developing lymphedema appears, up to 10%, according to data from the AECC. If, in addition to surgery, radiation therapy is received in the armpit, the risk can increase up to 20-15%.
Lymphedema is inflammation that can become chronic, and it causes a lot of pain. To avoid this, specialists recommend carrying out a certain physical activity and avoiding weight bearing. That is why the lifestyle that each person leads plays a very important factor.
Some of the factors that can influence the appearance of lymphedema are those exposed by the AECC on its website. Among them we can find the following:
• Removal of the axillary lymph nodes
• Surgery and / or radiotherapy on the armpit
• Surgery and postoperative infection
• Lack of mobility
• Sedentary life
• Excess movement or poorly performed movements (poorly performed isometric exercises, strengthening the arm with excessive weight and without correct guidelines, etc.)
• Clothing or jewelry that compresses
Woman’sBack® was born precisely for this reason and we are very proud to have been able to make the dreams of many women who have undergone breast cancer treatment come true. Woman'sBack® was born from the personal experience of Maria Prandi. In 2015 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and that same year she underwent surgery to treat it. The following summer, Maria, who is in love with the mountains, promised herself that she would go on a crossing in the Pyrenees. For this, she needed to carry a backpack. Doctors had warned her that wearing a backpack could cause lymphedema to appear on her arm. She looked for a backpack that would solve her need, but she did not find any of it that would solve her personal need, so she decided to design her own backpack.
What we have done has been to develop a closure system for a normal backpack, which with only three steps, allows carrying weight and freeing the intervened area from any pressure. The adaptation of the system is carried out by hand in Barcelona by a woman from the company, Merche. Our backpacks are personalized and adapted for each woman, since it depends on where it has been intervened, a modification is made to the right or left side.
The Woman'sBack® backpack is not only useful for sports, but is also useful for everyday use. And, although we tend to think only of women, we know that there is a percentage of breast cancer that affects men. Woman'sBack® is also aimed at them.
On behalf of the entire Woman'sBack® team, we want to send a message of strength and support to everyone who is going through a situation like this, since we will continue working to make invisible situations more visible.
For more information on lymphedema and breast cancer here. (AECC data source)