Saturday, March 6 marks the fifth annual World Lymphedema Day, established by the U.S. Senate in 2016 and also referred to as “LymphADay” (Lymphedema Awareness Day).
This celebration aims to light a spotlight in all countries of the world on Lymphedema, a disease of the lymphatic system (rare disease if present at birth, or more often secondary to cancer treatments) characterized by having chronically swollen arms and legs. This disease has often been underestimated and patients have found, and still find, difficulty in entering into valid treatment pathways with even more disabling consequences due to the slow progression of the disease itself.
This year’s World Lymphedema Patient Day comes at a time of great general concern for our health. Last year, on March 6, 2020, we began to perceive the impending COVID19 but it was not even imaginable to foresee what it would really produce in terms of life habits and serious restrictions on treatment opportunities that, especially for chronic diseases, has on average significantly reduced the quality of life of those affected.
The difficulty in being able to undergo maintenance therapies, the fears that the virus will attack more, both on primary and secondary forms, the qualms about vaccines, are just some of the difficulties that have accompanied the lives of many patients and, consequently, of health workers involved in their care.
At the territorial level, we have news that, having overcome the first phase of discouragement and reorganizational difficulties, also related to the need for compliance with the rules of ‘distancing’, we have done everything possible, both in terms of practical and information. It has been emphasized in various circumstances that the VIRUS does not affect more patients with lymphedema and that the vaccination (except for special cases not related to lymphedema per se) is a fundamental “step” to be taken, even for these patients. As far as treatments are concerned, physical rehabilitation activities have resumed in the territory, more or less with alacrity, and even the Centers of first reference (with hospitalization) have resumed their care activities, while respecting the general prevention rules.
ITALF (the Italian section of the International Lymphoedema Framework, one of the most important and accredited international scientific societies in the field of lymphatic pathologies, which deals with lymphology in a global way, uniting patient associations, lymphologists and physiotherapists) has continued its action with its constant interventions with institutions, at all levels. Contacts have continued with the competent Ministry, with the Superior Institute of Health and, at the regional level, with various territorial contacts, in order to improve the supply and quality of care.
The annual Congress of the association, an opportunity to meet and exchange training at the national level, necessarily, has been postponed to 2022 (like most of the other scientific events, so-called ‘frontal’), but the training and information activity has not stopped and is soon planning a series of webinars dedicated to the updating of operators and patients themselves.
In this context of concern, but also of great hope, we wish everyone a rapid overcoming of the current epidemiological conditions in order to return as soon as possible to a normal life, both from the point of view of health and relationships.
A cordial and intense greeting to all patients and to those who treat them with dedication and seriousness.
On behalf of the ITALF Board of Directors The President
Dr. Sandro Michelini