One of the most defining characteristics of the lymphedema community is that we are a resilient collective of individuals, a group that supports one another and continues to push forward no matter what circumstances or obstacles there may be.
Some days are harder than others, but we get through.
“We have to,” says Nancy Vee, owner of EZ Medical Wraps. “We have an option: either we can control our lymphedema, or it can control us. It’s up to us.”
Nancy launched EZ Medical Wraps in late 2014 along with her sister. The company is truly by lymphies, for lymphies, as Nancy herself figures she’s had lymphedema for about twenty years despite being diagnosed only within the last five.
“When my doctor told me I had lymphedema, I said, ‘OK. How do I fix it?'” Nancy said. “She laughed at me and she goes, ‘Honey, you gotta live with it.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, that doesn’t work in my wheelhouse. I’ll find a way.'”
And she did.
Instead of letting her lymphedema control her, Nancy took control of it: from making and selling compression wraps to wearing shorts in the summertime (“My legs are wrapped — if you don’t know what it is, ask me and I’ll be happy to educate you!”), she pushes forward. She’s found, too, that her lymphedema affords her a unique patient perspective when it comes to the compression industry.
“Every lymphedema patient is different,” she says, and it’s this awareness of patient needs that has allowed her to develop products that are both affordable and effective options for people the world over.
A few years following the launch, the business underwent a baptism of fire — literally.
Early one February morning in 2016, a fire broke out on Main Street in the small town of Madelia, Minnesota. The fire spread quickly, burning five buildings to the ground and destroying eight businesses in its wake — Nancy’s included.
It was, by all accounts, a massive blow. Nancy’s shop was gone, as were her inventory and materials: her rolls of foam, her fabric, her sewing machine. For a lot of people, that would have been it: a sign, perhaps, that it just wasn’t meant to happen.
Not for Nancy, though.
EZ Medical Wraps reopened April 1, 2016 — “April Fool’s, because I thought that was appropriate for our life,” Nancy chirped. “Because I have a weird sense of humor, and I still have a smile.”
“That’s quite the origin story,” I said. ” You’re really like a phoenix rising from the ashes here.”
“Well,” Nancy laughed. “Either that or I’m just plain insane!”
Nancy’s resiliency beams throughout her company and its mission, which is to positively impact the lives of all those who live with lymphedema. EZ Medical Wraps is committed to helping everyone of all sizes and ages have access to compression, so they can get the relief they need to regain control of their lymphedema and their lives.
One of the ways they do this is through their Kids Program, where they offer custom reduction kits completely free of charge to children all over the world. Despite having lost most of their colorful fabrics in the fire, Nancy says they still make sure to slip a little surprise in each package for the kids.
They also offer a discount for any military member past or present as a thank you for their service, as well as an homage to Nancy’s own military family.
Because it’s a small company, EZ Medical Wraps is able to do a lot of custom projects for patients no matter what their needs may be. Since the orders are custom, they go to great lengths to ensure they make the product right the first time, working closely with their customers every step of the way.
“We don’t make anything without measurements,” Nancy stresses, explaining that they’ll call to verify if there’s even the slightest question. “A phone call, an email, a text message is better than sending out a product that doesn’t fit!”
One of the reasons Nancy’s wraps and reduction kits are so popular is that they’re easier to apply than most other compression garments on the market; patients are able to put them on themselves, without depending on a caregiver or donning device to do so. EZ Medical Wraps products have a patented design that helps the wraps stay in place while being applied, and they can be worn comfortably for longer periods of time — even overnight!
Rather than take insurance, EZ Medical Wraps is private pay to keep costs low and therefore help make compression treatment more accessible to those without insurance coverage. Aside from the short-stretch bandages, all of their products and materials are proudly made, manufactured, and packaged in the United States.
“I consider my lymphedema a blessing,” Nancy said. “People are like, ‘You’re nuts!’ But — had I not gotten this — look at all the kids we wouldn’t have been able to help, look at all the people we wouldn’t have been able to help. How can that be a bad thing?”