March 2019

Lymphedema: Not an Excuse to Stop. The Excuse to Try.

Thomas Charles Walsh, professional ski racer and ambassador for the U.S. Paralympics Alpine Skiing National Team

Thomas Walsh is a professional alpine ski racer and Paralympian with several accolades proving his skill in his sport. He is also an advocate for raising awareness of lymphedema, which he acquired at the age of 14. Juzo has partnered with Thomas to help inspire others through his story and courageous efforts, on the slopes and off.

Hello, Juzo blog readers. Like many of you, I live with lymphedema. Every day, I live with the pain and struggles that lymphedema brings not only to my right leg, but to my entire life – that said, my life is still great!

I was diagnosed with lymphedema almost a full year after my encounter with Ewing’s Sarcoma. A rare bone cancer found in my pelvis had metastasized to my lungs. I have survived countless chemotherapy rounds, radiation treatments, and a resection and reconstructive surgeries, yet lymphedema positively reminds me daily of what I have overcome.

My journey through cancer treatment and survivorship are too challenging and complicated to bring to words. However, when it comes to living with lymphedema, I have come to terms with the fact that this is simply my life now – having to deal with treatment, finding time to pump, scheduling MLD, enduring the pain of wrapping, wearing a compression garment every day, the fear of lymphedema progressing for the rest of my life, and all of those shenanigans! While I cannot control the forces that unwillingly affect my life, I can control how I choose to manage and deal with them. This could not speak truer to my understanding and decisions regarding lymphedema.

I am fortunate that I am someone who experienced life with and without lymphedema. This brings the hardship of knowing what life could be, however it also gives me the ability to try and live my life as I would without lymphedema. This is what keeps me moving. Just because I have lymphedema, I do not stop doing the activities that I want to do. However, I know that I only have this freedom if I take care of myself and my leg. This means wearing and having access to correctly fitting compression garments every single day.

I was a skier before lymphedema, and I identify as a skier today; as a member of the U.S. Paralympics Alpine Skiing National Team, 2018 Winter Paralympian, 2019 World Para Alpine Skiing Championships two-time bronze medalist, World Para Alpine Skiing World Cup winner and a World Cup overall medalist. I graduated in 2017 with a BFA in Performing Arts from Savannah College of Art and Design and am currently pursing my studies as a graduate student of the Keller Graduate School of Management. I know I would not be who or what I am without adequate lymphedema treatment and compression garments.

This is why I am more than honored and proud to partner with Juzo. The products and supplies that Juzo creates, as I know firsthand, can improve the quality of life for any and all people dealing with lymphedema or lymphedema-like conditions. I am excited to represent Juzo not only on ski slopes around the world, but to all those who want to live their lives to the fullest. I am energized by having the ability to show others that lymphedema does not need to stop them from accomplishing and doing all that they desire. To me, lymphedema is not an excuse to stop, it is the excuse to try.