Having a community who understands your struggles and is there to help is at the cornerstone of staying healthy. For many years, people with lymphedema, lipedema, and other conditions that cause swelling or anomalous foot/hand shapes were isolated.
While millions of people suffer from lower limb swelling, only recently have key businesses launched to provide resources and products catering to improving the lives of people with these problems. We are highlighting some brands and organizations that have made it their mission to help people living with lymphedema and other chronic conditions to have a better quality of life.
The Lymphie Life
Alexa Ercolano, blogger and founder of Lymphie Life, discussed her feelings of isolation when she was first diagnosed with Lymphedema in a 2021 interview with Pandere Shoes founders.“ I was really devastated. I went through that mourning process I think a lot of us go through when we first get that diagnosis. I think nowadays, it's a little different in that there's so much out there online now and that that mourning process is maybe a little bit shorter. There is a community and answers and treatment. But before all that was accessible, you're filling in the blanks yourself.”
Alexa continues by saying that her blog was started as a “shout out to the void to see if anyone else was there”. The Lymphie Life now has tens of thousands of followers from people all over the world and is at the top of our list for brands lymphies and families of lymphies should know.
What is incredible is the number of people who felt the same way, at the same time, and were searching for connection. CEO Laura Oden had a similar story in the creation of Pandere Shoes. “I had to figure so much out on my own when I was first diagnosed, and years into my struggle with lymphedema”. Laura began her quest for connection and also research that would lead her to start Pandere Shoes in 2014 when lymphedema online groups just getting started.
Thankfully, the age of communication has helped improve access to resources for people with chronic conditions. Now, more than ever, people who have felt isolated, alone and underserved have an opportunity for connection and options.
As a company focused on bringing dignity and mobility back into the lives of those who have been impacted by chronic conditions, Pandere loves seeing new fashion companies start in the lymphedema and diabetic space. Stemwear was founded by Debra Swersky, a fellow lymphie, who was tired of boring beige compression garments. Out of her need to feel normal and have more options, she created a new fashion statement that gives people with limb differences and chronic foot conditions new and vibrant legging choices. Debra describes her startup as “joyful defiance." Curious what her customers say?
Stemwear has made such a difference for my confidence and fashion sense since I received my first pair! I’ve always struggled to find leggings that fit my lymphie legs but thanks to Stemwear, I no longer have to worry about circulation being cut off or an incorrect fit. Additionally, Stemwear is perfect for any occasion! From hikes through nature to a quick glass of rose at a winery, Stemwear leggings provides comfort and style. Stemwear gives me the freedom and courage to be my authentic lymphie self and I can’t wait to see what other products are in store. — Olivia E.
Win Our Fight
Superstar Amy Rivera founded the Ninjas Fighting Lymphedema Foundation. Amy has her own story as a lymphedema patient and warrior. They envision a world where there is equal and timely access to lymphedema services, supplies, and support for all who need it. Their mission is to make sure no lymphie is left behind.
In her own words, Amy Rivera says,
Follow Amy and get empowered winourfight.org & hybridbandaging.com
“I was born with an incurable disorder called lymphedema that left me immensely disfigured. My right leg was 200% bigger than my left leg. I lived feeling alone for a long time. Through lifelong adversity with my disability, I developed an activist mindset as I feverishly fought to better my quality of life through medicine, nutrition, fitness, and faith. Against all odds, my journey led me to overcome the worst known severity of lymphedema, and I now manage it with minimal maintenance. I left the corporate medical world to pursue my calling to be a voice for those with disabilities and live a philanthropic life.” Amy’s various associations all have a mission of breaking down barriers for people fighting lymphedema.