Living Powerfully with Lymphedema | Juzo USA
March 2024

Living Powerfully with Lymphedema

Virginia Parish, Life and Fitness Coach

Diagnosed with lymphedema at 13, Virginia Parish has learned a lot about her condition and how best to manage it over the last 30 years. Her routine includes exercise, wearing compression, and most importantly focusing on what she CAN do to live a full and powerful life without getting distracted by what she can’t control. Get to know her a better in the Q&A below and connect with her on Instagram, @queen___vee___.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I am 42 years old and an online Life and Fitness coach. I also manage the Saint Fit gym in Napa, CA. I have four kids, ranging in ages from 17 to 23.

When did you learn you had lymphedema?
I was first diagnosed with lymphedema when I was 13 years old. My mom noticed my right thigh was bigger than my left. We watched the swelling slowly progress down my leg over the next few months. I was finally referred to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, where they finally concluded I had lymphedema.

What does your treatment plan include?
I wear compression daily to keep the swelling managed. I like to dry brush and do breathing exercises several times throughout the week as well, in order to keep up with the management. Daily exercise is also a huge component to my management. I didn’t start incorporating that until about five years ago and was amazed how much strength training helped both the swelling and my confidence. I became hooked, and it’s how I got into the profession I’m in today.

What compression garments do you wear?
I wear the Juzo Basic open-toe compression stockings on the daily. I also just started using the Juzo wraps to help with decongestion, and I love them! I tend to have extra swelling in my calf from sitting during the day for Zoom meetings and computer work, and they help so much!

What is something you wish you'd known sooner about lymphedema?
I wish I had learned that a healthy diet and exercise was one of the best things I could do for my lymphedema. I was told that exercise (with the exception of swimming) could be dangerous and potentially cause more swelling when I was first diagnosed. It has made such an incredible difference for me that I wish I had known sooner. Even the simplest practices make a difference when you do them consistently!

What motivates you?
I have many reasons I persist in spite of my challenges with lymphedema (or any other challenges for that matter). I want to set an example for my children and those around me of what it means to live a powerful life. To live powerfully, you have to find the choices you DO have rather than focusing on the ones you DON’T have. I can’t do much about the fact that I have lymphedema, other than manage it. But, I CAN change other things…I can grow muscles and be strong and lean, so I can move my body and be healthy for a long time. It’s not even about the physical for me, though. It’s about refusing to allow my mental state to be low and feel victim to circumstances that I cannot control. This philosophy moves far beyond my condition or my body. My whole purpose is to show up as the best version of myself every day and share that with others.

Why do you advocate for lymphedema awareness?
There is a general lack of awareness about lymphedema—even in the medical community. It was scary growing up and having to educate nearly every doctor I saw on what it was. More awareness is needed. For the lymphedema community, I want to be a source of strength. I’ve dealt with this condition for almost 30 years now, and I understand not just the physical challenges but also the mental and emotional challenges that it can bring. There is hope, and I want to give that hope away.

What advice to you have for others with lymphedema?
If you’ve been recently diagnosed, first of all, know that you’re not alone. Focus on the things you CAN do and begin to accept the things you have no control over. Reach out for support. Learn as much as you can about how to manage and begin to take care of yourself in every way. You are worth it…the time, the focus, the energy of self-care will help you stay positive. You’re beautiful. Don’t let anyone tell you different.


Get to know our other Juzo Champions on juzousa.com and connect with them on social! Follow us on Instagram, @JuzoCompression and Facebook to find inspiration from others, like Virginia.

Terry Andolshek commented on Apr 26, 2024
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Juzo has some great items.

 
 

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