Veronica “Vern” Seneriz has lymphedema and founded the Lymphie Strong social channels and blog as a way to motivate herself and others to get and stay moving. Learn more about her and Lymphie Strong at staylymphiestrong.com.
Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays of the year. For me personally, it is a time for reflection and renewal, and I am incredibly thankful for all the positive milestones we have achieved this year in the #MOVETHATLYMPH for Lymphedema & Lymphatic Health cause.
I have had lymphedema for more than 23 years. My father, with 40 years of LE, learned to adapt from his father and handed down tips for management that helped me reverse my Stage 1 diagnosis, which took an entire year. One of the major components of my reduction process was finding comfortable garments that I liked to wear, were comfortable, and felt fashionable to me. Juzo provided those, and I absolutely love the tie-dye. Another major component was the ability to exercise again. A doctor told me in 2010 that I could forget about exercise with the exception of briskly walking for 15 minutes. This was before advances in research had been published, and as we now know, it is simply untrue. I started out slow and eased into a plan with an amazing coach. Exercise and compression were my salvation.
During this time, I founded the Lymphie Strong social media groups and blog to reach people who might not otherwise have a support system, as it can be very isolating to have this disease. A courageous group of people got together with me, and I created The Lymphedema Running & Fitness Club. When I did my first 5K ever, my father asked me what cause I was running for, and I told him nothing. He said that it was crazy to run for nothing, and a few days later, I said I would run for lymphedema. “Ok, I’ve got this cane,” he said. “Promise me you’ll run for me too.” I answered that, “For as long as my legs allow me, I will run for you.”
This year, we kicked off the #MOVETHATLYMPH Challenge Series, a platform to get moving, stay moving and commit to your lymphatic health by doing something active, every day, for at least 10 minutes, 365 days straight. To keep the momentum going strong, we implemented a Summer and Fall Challenge, and more than140 people from around the world joined. We are incredibly thankful that Juzo became our first corporate sponsor for the Fall Challenge and donated the top two grand prizes in the form of compression.
This Thanksgiving, as I reflect on what I’m thankful for, it’s the feedback I get from people all over the world. It pushes me to work harder for the cause. Someone, somewhere out there, always needs a boost. Here are just a few comments others have shared with me:
“I participated in the summer and fall #movethatlymph challenge, and its impact on me has been fantastic. I love this lymphedema community, and I feel very fortunate to have found it right after being diagnosed. Through these challenges, I have been encouraged, motivated, and inspired to keep pressing towards this new healthier, active lifestyle. Days when I feel I lack the motivation I need, I can come here and see others (some who have major mobility issues), pressing on towards being more active, and it pushes me forward.”
“I read all of the posts on your site daily! You encourage me and make me realize that my legs don’t control me. I control me!”
“So often we think ‘I can’t,’ and it’s Lymphoedema that is holding us back, but honestly...we can! I train really hard and often and have an active community to encourage me. This challenge helps me to encourage others to say, ‘I can.’ It’s nice to know we are in it together!”
If you are reading this and have lymphedema, always remember that you are braver and stronger than you think. You are not alone with this disease, so try to surround yourself with positive like-minded individuals who share the same mission as you. You will be so thankful you did. Happy Thanksgiving.