Ron's story

After an operation to remove lymph nodes on both sides of his groin following a cancer diagnosis, Ron’s legs began to swell. His right leg was particularly affected and became so swollen he couldn’t walk unaided and could only wear baggy shorts and sandals, whatever the weather. 

This is lymphoedema. Ron explains, “I couldn’t get trousers on as my leg was too big. I couldn’t do anything because my leg was that big. I had a walking stick. If I went up town you could see people looking at me in my shorts and sandals. They would follow you saying, “look at the state of that. They don’t realise you’ve got something wrong with you.”

Lymphoedema is not curable but the build-up of fluid that causes the swelling can be treated and managed. Ron’s consultant referred him to the Hospice about four years ago and he has been under the care of the Lymphoedema Clinic ever since, he says;

“At first I was coming twice a week for bandaging to get it back down. I was tightening them up every night at home myself. After bandaging for four weeks we went onto stockings. About 12 month ago we changed to newer stockings. They are made for you, made to fit your leg. They are much thicker. They’ve worked wonders, I will admit that, they have worked wonders.”

His nurse, Theresa, explains, “Because his leg is so big, the thinner stockings didn’t really hold. The results [for Ron with the thicker stockings] have been exceptional. Usually, we would expect to see the leg go up a little bit, but his just keeps going down, down and down. Even today, he thought it had gone up as he’s had an infection but it has gone down again. I measure every time and we keep a close eye on him. He didn’t have enough follow-up previously so now, after intensive treatment, we keep hold of him to make sure it continues to improve.”

Ron continues, “They do very well for me. It’s more up to date now and there are better things available.   Up’ til now I’ve been coming every four weeks.” The stockings are working so well that Theresa doesn’t need to see him for two months. 

Ron has to wear the stockings 24-7, apart from when he is in the bath! As soon as he takes them off he can feel the difference and the leg really aches. He is given two stockings so that he always has one to wear when one is in the wash. After about two months the stockings start to lose elasticity so he will have to continue visiting the clinic for replacements and so the team can ensure he has the right size as his leg reduces, or increases, in size. 

The Lymphoedema Team have made such a difference to Ron’s quality of life with the treatment keeping him mobile. He still feels the effects though, “My legs get tired with just a bit of walking. Just bending down to put my shoes on and I’m knackered. I’m still here though!”
 
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