Actress, Academy Award winner, and all-around awesome lady Kathy Bates recently kicked off the Face of Lymphedema campaign at the Lymphatic Education & Research Network’s Walk for Lymphedema and Lymphatic Diseases in September with this video message:

“Struggling alone with lymphedema can feel like a punishment for having cancer—that’s why I hope to bring awareness.”

Ahhh! How cool to have lymphie representation in Hollywood! I often hear of celebrities speaking out about living with various illnesses and chronic diseases, but I have never heard of a celebrity with lymphedema before (although I’m sure there are some out there). It’s beyond amazing to have Ms. Bates speak openly and honestly about her lymphedema, and it’s validating to have someone so well-known and visible help bring awareness not only to our condition but to our experience, as well.

Her story is one so many lymphies can relate to. In 2012, Ms. Bates was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a double mastectomy, and the treatment of her breast cancer resulted in lymphedema in both arms. This past spring, Ms. Bates shared more of her experience with lymphedema in an interview with Coping with Cancer magazine:

“My surgeon removed quite a few lymph nodes under my arms, but thankfully I only have mild lymphedema. While you’re dealing with the cancer, that’s what you’re focused on, so lymphedema often isn’t talked about until well after surgery, and sometimes not at all. People with lymphedema can be frightened to discover that they will have to deal with this condition for the rest of their lives. I still require treatment for the lymph­edema to keep my arms from swelling. Dr. Emily Iker of the Lymphedema Center in Santa Monica, CA, has been treating me regularly. I also need to wear compression sleeves on airplanes, and sometimes I wear them while driving long distances.”

Thank you, Ms. Bates, for speaking up about lymphedema and inspiring us lymphies to not only continue taking care of our lymphedema but to also continue spreading awareness of our condition. Together, our voices can be heard!

To participate in LE&RN’s “Face of Lymphedema” campaign, create a video announcing “I have lymphedema” (or “Someone I love has lymphedema” if you are a family member or friend) and either email it to or upload it to YouTube.