A Message of Thanks and Motivation
Author: Vern Seneriz, founder Lymphie Strong
November 2017

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.

31 Comments

JC commented on Nov 27, 2017
Vern, You are such an inspiration. Thank you for all you do!!

Marti Dotson commented on Nov 21, 2017
I would love to thank Vern for being such an inspiratiion to me. I joined in the fall challenge to exercise 60 days straight. I had never done that. I was hospitalized with cellulitis this past July and am still recovering from a broken leg Vern would even private message to encourage me sometimes. I am going to make her proud and do a 5k. My broken leg is just not quite up to the training yet so she encourages me to do what I can on land and lots in water. I am so thankful for her and others dedicated to helping those struggling like I do.

Julia commented on Nov 20, 2017
Lymphoedema *can* be such an isolating condition. We're often met with barriers - you can't exercise, you can't travel, you can't do adventure sports, you shouldn't do that treatment etc. When I was first diagnosed, I felt like I had so many negatives. Over time, I've come to realise that with my condition, I can! I can (& have) done quite a bit of travel, I've participated in extreme activities (like white water rafting & sky diving), I've tried so many different types of treatment it's not even funny, and to the best of my ability, I've tried to keep my chin up and keep doing the best I can to live the best life I can. Having the support of this community has been pretty great. It now feels like I'm not the only one. We all face our individual battles, but we know that we have people in our corner, barracking for great results!

Flo Lombardo commented on Nov 20, 2017
Without Vern’s group, I would be lost. I’ve had LE for years, but didn’t receive the diagnosis until February 2017. I was finally happy to know what was wrong with me, but really scared. Vern is an inspiration. Her group was the first I found after my diagnosis. The support I have received will never be forgotten.

Tammy commented on Nov 20, 2017
I am so appreciative of Vern and everyone I have met thru her social media groups. I was diagnosed with secondary lymphedema many years ago, but just began treatment a year ago. Donning compression left me feeling isolated and very much alone. Coming across Vern's page, LymphieStrong, empowered me to take steps to gain my life back. Without this group, I would most likely still live a life of isolation. Lymphedema is not a death sentence and Vern's example has shown many of us we can live a full life with lymphedema.

Judy B commented on Nov 18, 2017
It is SO amazing to be among like-minded people facing the often-similar challenges of being active while coping with lymphedema. The summer and fall #movethatlymph challenges have a been a great way to give and receive encouragement. You can't slow me down! Even though I've had lymphedema for 17 years, I still love competing in outrigger canoe races, swimming, pilates, and working out at the gym.

Terry Moore commented on Nov 18, 2017
I have been a member of Vern's Facebook groups, followed her on Twitter and her Blog for a little over a year, and can honestly say she is one of the most compassionate, caring, giving and selfless people I have known. She puts so much thought and immeasurable time into all she does. Although I have had symptoms of Lymphedema on both legs for over 30 years, I was not diagnosed until 2 years ago, due to the majority of the medical field and doctors not having much knowledge or awareness of Lymphedema. It is because of people like Vern & her tireless efforts to educate people and bring Lymphedema patients together, that helps us know we are not alone in our fight with Lymphedema and all the ways it impacts our lives. The support groups that Vern has formed and continues to administrate, have brought people together from around the world. We have learned from each other in so many ways, both for suggestions, tips on different ways to manage our disorder, offer support when we are feeling down or challenged, encouragement when we need an extra push to keep going, and to cheer each other on when we have successes, no matter how big or small. I have learned so much about Lymphedema and been inspired by all the people I've met through these groups. I now know that I am not alone, and that together we can help spread awareness! I have learned from Vern & others in these groups a variety of ways to manage my Lymphedema, or know where to go if I have questions or need feedback. All of this has been made possible by Vern and her work to spread awareness and compassion for what we previously thought we were alone in dealing with. Together we are stronger and won't let Lymphedema take over our lives!!

Terri K commented on Nov 18, 2017
I, too, have lymphedema however it is secondary after cancer treatment. The challenges have helped me stay motivated to #movethatlymph. I've have learned so much from others. The positive comments from the other participants on my posts make me smile. I now have virtual friends who I can ask questions to. Vern is one of those friends and I am grateful for her work in educating and supporting us. No one chose this but it's wonderful to have others who understand. I'll be giving thanks for Vern and the groups she has started along with her activities to educate this Thanksgiving and every day!

Catherine Tucher, Surrey England commented on Nov 18, 2017
I am thankful to Vern!! She has single handedly brought together Lymphies from around the world via her blog and FB Lymphie Strong Inspiration Group. LE is an incredibly isolating disease emotionally, socially and physically, especially due to the disfiguring and debilitating nature of it, especially for those of us with most of our body affected by it. Without Vern's group I would not have connected with two others with Primary LE that live only 30 minutes from me and attend the same Lymphoedema Clinic but never would have otherwise met. LS Inspiration Group is what keeps me and countless other Lymphies from giving up on our worst suffering days - the group does what says on the tin, it's inspires, motivates, supports, educates, promotes comradery, and ensures we do not feel alone when we are lonely because non- Lymphies don't have a clue what it's like to be a Lymphie; to experience the massive life and daily lifestyle changes that are so often imposed on us. Not to mention the additional health implications we have to be constantly on guard to. It's a dreadful disease but Vern's positity, inspiration and advocacy for a cure to be discovered, show me and thousands of other worldwide Lymphies, therapists, medics and legislators, that we can push ourselves through every day, often against the odds, until a cure is discovered. Vern is my hero!! ????

Julia Bonogofsky commented on Nov 18, 2017
Vern you are such an inspiration! Thank you for all you do for us lymphies!

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