Friday, January 7, 2011

My Friend Susan and How She is Fighting the Good Fight AND Helping Women Who Can't Afford Lymphedema Sleeves

I have a really good friend named Susan. She might be your good friend too, even if you just know her through her online life. She is @whymommy and she blogs at Toddler Planet.

Susan is a scientist—like, a real-life rocket scientist—and a mother to two fun, incredibly sweet, and adorable children. She is also a wife to a wonderful man who is almost as cool as her. Susan has been a champion of my family for years now, and has so genuinely cared about learning about autism and Jack, that even if I didn't love her as a friend (which I do), I would love her just for that. Susan is funny and graceful and delightful to be around. Her capacity for caring is beyond words. Basically, she's a really cool woman, and I'm so happy to have her as my friend.

Susan also has cancer. She has been fighting cancer on and off for a long time now and yesterday she got news of more. I'm tempted to throw a lot of curse words at the universe for that, but because Susan is a proper Southern woman, I will not. Visit her site, send her good thoughts, help her in her fight with your words, but she specifically doesn't want your pity. Let's work on sending her strength instead.

Susan has spent these past years not just loving her family and doing some of the most conscious parenting I have ever seen, but working to do good. She founded the Mothers with Cancer site, which gives a voice to many mothers also fighting cancer. She runs the Women in Planetary Science site to advocate for women in science and to encourage them to pursue careers in the field. She has been a tireless source of information and support for women with cancer and people who need to know how to support someone with cancer. She has worked so very hard to publicize the dangers of inflammatory breast cancer, the breast cancer that presents without a lump.

The woman is a force for good, people.

Over the past few weeks, while recovering from her most recent chemo treatments and in the midst of worrying about upcoming scans, she has been working to help breast cancer survivors who struggle with lymphedema, something I had never even heard of before I saw Susan experience it.

The medical equipment used to treat this condition is often not covered by insurance, causing many cancer survivors to have to go without.  Naturally this isn't okay with Susan. Check out what she's doing about it. And if you know someone who needs help paying for lymphedema sleeves, pass this on to her.

Can't Afford Lymphedema Sleeves?

Cross-posted from Toddler Planet

Are you or do you know a breast cancer survivor? Please read today's post and pass it on. If you can't afford to purchase a lymphedema sleeve, gauntlet, and/or glove, and you can't manage your post-mastectomy swelling, Crickett's Answer and LympheDIVAs want to help.

Today, I am pleased to announce a NEW opportunity for breast cancer survivors who have had a mastectomy and/or axillary dissection of the lymph nodes due to breast cancer and have swelling of one or both arms but cannot afford the $200-$500+ cost for two sets of the compression sleeves and gauntlets that survivors with lymphedema must wear every day to keep the swelling in check.

Although lymphedema sleeves are medically necessary, they are not covered by Medicare OR most insurance plans under current law, and thousands of survivors go without the sleeves, needlessly suffering congestion, swelling, and pain that interferes with their normal activities.

Crickett's Answer, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in memory of Crickett Julius, has just joined forces with LympheDIVAs to help other breast cancer survivors who fight not just the beast that is breast cancer but also the fallout of side effects that includes lymphedema, which may limit survivors' activities. By working together, they are now able to provide needed lymphedema sleeves and gauntlets to women who need them but cannot afford them out-of-pocket or convince their insurance companies to pay for them. They do this in honor and memory of their loved ones.

PhotobucketCrickett Julius survived breast cancer only four months, but her mother and cousin are dedicated to helping other women enjoy their life post-diagnosis through Crickett's Answer, a 501(c)3 organization that provides wigs, mastectomy products, oncology/mastectomy/ lymphedema massage, facials, and other pampering services as a way to help women feel feminine and beautiful after losing their hair and/or breasts.

PhotobucketLympheDIVAs was founded by Rachel Troxell and Robin Miller, friends and breast cancer survivors, who wanted to create a more elegant and comfortable compression sleeve. Rachel continued to build the company during her later recurrence. Even though she died two years ago, at the age of 37, her father, mother, and brother continue to grow the company in her honor and in the hope that LympheDIVAs’ compression apparel will continue to inspire breast cancer survivors everywhere to feel as beautiful, strong, and confident as Rachel was.

To ask for help, please download and complete the forms at Crickett's Answer, writing in "lymphedema sleeve and gauntlet" on page 2 of the application.

To help someone else, please copy and paste this post on your blog or email it to a friend (or your local cancer center!).

To donate, go here.

To help change the law so that this medical garment is covered by cancer survivors' insurance, stay tuned for more about the Lymphedema Treatment Act when it is reintroduced in the 2011 Congress.

Because of these women, these three thirty-something women who didn't ask to get breast cancer, and the men and women who love them, there is now help for women who can't afford lymphedema sleeves, a medically necessary garment not typically covered by insurance. Their legacy lives on.

Note: Cancer patients who are members of the National Lymphedema Network and who are treated by an NLN therapist can also apply to the NLN garment fund, set up in honor of Marilyn Westerbrook.

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