I’m yet again sorry for neglecting you. Always the same when work becomes busy.
However, I’m back. I recently came home from a week in Doha. I say recently… I mean at the start of November! As I sat for the outbound flight, in Pilots Lounge and Bar in Heathrow Terminal 5, I watched a post on my Facebook Timeline. It was Glamour Magazine’s Woman of the Year Awards 2015 featuring one of my favourite actresses- Reese Witherspoon. I watched with my earbuds in, G&T poised in hand and eagerly awaiting my beer battered fish with triple cooked chips.
I took on board one key message from her speech. Women ALWAYS know what to do next. Picture it…
Witherspoon stands with award in hand and tells the story of how she came to this conclusion. She talks of watching a film where the woman turns to the man and asks “What do we do now?”. She asks her audience “Do you know of any women in any crisis situation who has absolutely no idea what to do?”. She follows on saying “It’s ridiculous that a woman wouldn’t know what to do”, speaks of her outrage and wanting to change this in the film industry and looking back to something her mother told her “If you want something done honey, do it yourself!” So we did.
Witherspoon started to make changes via her own production company.
I hear you thinking… what’s this got to do with Lymphoedema!?? The answer… EVERYTHING!!
The “so we did” applies to us! We are changing the face of Lymphoedema. You need only look at the support groups WE set up!! These are mostly (Jeff excluded!) run by women. We are all aware of Vern, Amy, Lindsey (UK), Kala, the 2 Sarah’s, the up and coming shoe company- Pandere, Xpanda socks, EZ Wraps, Lymphediva sleeves. ALL WOMEN MAKING A DIFFERENCE!!
This is an ugly condition. It makes you feel ugly, it makes you question your beauty and self worth. It plays with your emotions, confidence and self belief. It makes you question every single aspect of your life up until diagnosis and every life decision afterwards.
Really take a moment to consider the following:
We needed support groups- so we created them. We wanted prettier garments- we created them. Wanted shoes to fit- heck, we’re creating them.
Our ‘crisis situation’ was being diagnosed and dealing with the chaos afterwards. I don’t remember being diagnosed at 15 and my mother asking my father or the consultant “What do we do now?”… that was my father. My mum was asking “Who do we see next?” A very different perspective. Mum was ready for the next step- appointments, while dad was waiting to be told what to do. Even now, as an adult, I very rarely ask “What do I do now?”, I’m more likely to ask ” What can I try next?” Or “I was chatting to …. they tried …. how effective is it?”. Hardly ever “What do I do now?”.
Our community and condition breeds strong women (and men!). It defines us as positive characters with flaws to be embraced. We often feel defined by our flaws. We feel they define our character, our persistence and determination, and silhouette. However, we eventually get over the jump and tears (from hours of Googling images and then looking for a non existent cure) of being stuck with a degrading condition.
We suck it up, look for support and see a secondary gain of needing to buy all the shoes that fit!! We also make friends who we treat like family! A focus on the negative means we are accepting our hand that has been dealt and are powerless. But we have cards up our sleeve. We are probably the most strong and fierce women (and men) out of the individuals we know. Our battle isn’t just on the outside with our physical condition. But also an emotional journey from within ourselves. If you resign yourself to not having the fire to do more than survive, you’ll exist in a pity pool party. We all have battles we don’t always share with each other. That’s fine. It’s ok to not share every detail. But also remember that it is ok to ask for help!
I’ll leave you all with a question to ask yourself…
What are we going to do next?
Lots of Love
Copyright Lauren Toner 2011-2017