Lymphedema-MW: The Emotion
The Medicine Wheel and Lymphedema's Impact on Emotions


Medicine WheelSpritualPhysicalEmotionalMental
What are emotional affects of lymphedema?
  • You may feel frightened because:
    • It is the first time you've had to deal with it and you don't know what to expect, what you can do to manage it, or how to help prevent it from becoming a serious problem
    • You've had lymphedema before or heard stories about it
    • You think the lymphedema means your cancer has spread, but the swelling is rarely related to any new cancer.

  • You may feel frustrated and angry because:
    • You've been doing really well and taking good care of yourself. Sometimes medical scientists have no idea why lymphedema gets started.
    • You've had such a hard time lately and this is "just one more thing". It is frustrating, but there are things you can do to help keep it under control.
    • You feel like you have no control over what is happening to you. But this is not true.
    • You never felt like you were constantly being reminded you had cancer, but now you have to deal with this side effect of your disease. But lymphedema is hard to ignore and you should not try to ignore it.
    • You've been able to hug your family and friends again, and now you and they both have to be careful of hurting you again.
    • You are "fragile" in others opinions or in your own opinion
    • You are unable to sleep or rest comfortably and are irritable from lack of sleep.
    • You cannot go into Jacuzzi's or steam rooms with your friends or families when staying at hotels. You feel excluded or punished.
    • Some co-workers or members of the community may make mean comments to you, just to be hurtful.

  • You may feel strong and empowered because:
    • You are taking active steps to keep the lymphedema under control.
    • You and/or your family are meeting with your traditional spiritual healer more often and getting into better spiritual balance.
    • You are eating and exercising everyday for overall good health, and these behaviors help reduce the likelihood of another episode with lymphedema.
    • The lymphedema has helped you get your weight to what medical doctors call "normal weight".

  • You are likely to feel self-conscious because of the odd shape of your arm(s) or leg(s).
    • You may have to keep the arm(s) or leg(s) covered up when the weather is hot
    • You have to wear clothing when going into the water when it is hot.
    • You have to have bottled water to drink while doing ceremony (different behavior from everyone else doing ceremony)
    • You may have to sit near an exit door during ceremony to avoid getting too hot

  • You are likely to want no one to touch you because of the pain
  • You may have mood swings (sudden depression, fatigue, anger)



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