Lymphedema after Breast Cancer

Thousands of men and women are diagnosed and treated for breast cancer every year. We know the numbers are a massive difference when we look at the break down between the two, however treatments are very similar. Most breast cancer survivors are able to continue on with life after treatment or surgery. Others are left with a daily reminder of one huge obstacle they were able to overcome, but now faced with a bigger challenge ahead.


In 2016, it is estimated that among U.S. women there will be:

  • 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer (This includes new cases of primary breast cancer among survivors, but not recurrence of original breast cancer among survivors.)
  • 61,000 new cases of in situ breast cancer (This includes ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS). Of those, about 83 percent will be DCIS. DCIS is a non-invasive breast cancer and LCIS is a condition that increases the risk of invasive breast cancer.
  • 40,450 breast cancer deaths


Breast cancer in men is rare, but it does happen. In 2016, it is estimated that among men in the U.S. there will be:

  • 2,600 new cases of (This includes new cases of primary breast cancer among survivors, but not recurrence of original breast cancer among survivors.)
  • 440 breast cancer deaths

When you are talking about just one year and country alone, these numbers are shocking! What is even more shocking is that 40% of ALL breast cancer survivors will develop lymphedema. At this rate 123,064 women will develop secondary lymphedema and 1,040 men just from the 2016 breast cancer cases. Lymphedema is increased swelling in an extremity due to damaged lymph nodes. Typically the extremity that would be affected in a breast cancer case would be the upper extremities, arms and hands. Some of the reasons are due to Chemotherapy and or Radiation for cancer treatment. When surgery is done for breast cancer, it is more common than not for lymph nodes to be biopsied to see if cancer has spread to them. If there is cancer in the nodes, this can impact prognosis and alter treatment or removal of lymph nodes. The more lymph nodes removed, the greater the risk of lymphedema.

Lymphedema can occur immediately, or over time and can be so mild as to be hardly noticeable or so severe that it is painful and disfiguring. The goal would be to catch it in its early stages so the extremity can be maintained and not cause permanent damage to the body. Since the lymphatic system is part of the immune system, its job is to protect against bacteria, viruses, fungi and even cancer. The lymphatic system includes the spleen, thymus, lymph nodes and lymph channels, as well as your tonsils and adenoids. A normal functioning lymphatic system is critical to our health. Although at this time there is no cure for lymphedema, it can be managed with complete decongestive therapy (CDT) by a certified lymphedema specialists and suggested compression garments. Education, awareness and knowledge are crucial when it comes to treating breast cancer, as it can leave you with a secondary situation such as lymphedema.

To learn more about breast cancer related lymphedema, please watch the latest CBS News story on Academy Award winner, Kathy Bates and how she is now a voice for lymphedema around the world.  I am honored to share this platform with her through the Lymphatic Education and Research Network as we continue to build momentum for the 140+ Million individuals around the world that are affected by all types of Lymphedema and Lymphatic related conditions.

Live to Inspire,



Additional Resources for Lymphedema at: Amy Santiago’s Website

Source Used for Breast Cancer Statistics: Susan G. Komen

Knock Out Beauty

Makeup is such a powerful tool! It provides us with creative ways to enhance, compliment and think outside the box with an array of colors. To witness physical attributes transform right before our very eyes is empowering to say the least.

With so many amazing beauty products on the market, it makes it difficult at times to decide which ones may fulfill our needs, wants or desires when completing that look. Do you find yourself always-reverting back to certain products that make you feel your absolute best? What is it about those beauty products that give you those confident feelings? Certain packaging, bright or neutral colors, coverage and wear ability are all key factors for most, but what tops these factors is finding a brand that stands behind a message through the power of makeup.

I came upon Sonia Kashuk about 8 months ago and immediately fell in love with this unique beauty line. From the creative aspects of a broad variety of makeup products to a full lineup of bath and body and plenty of accessories and tools to fulfill any need. This line truly inspires the beauty of being.

Not only does Sonia Kashuk create her own performance-based makeup formulas, blended from ingredients of the highest quality; She also designs high-end packaging to showcase her luxurious, yet affordable makeup line. Her uncompromising commitment to beauty and perfection is in constant motion and expansion: every season Sonia reinterprets the trends, creates new colors, new shapes and patterns for brushes, bags, and more. Her latest Spring 2016 limited edition collection “KO Beauty,” encourages women from around the world to Knock Out Negativity through the empowering messages scribed on every item within the collection. What a wonderful reminder when using these products that “You Are A Knock Out Beauty” and to “Keep Your Head Up.”

I encourage you to check out this collection and be empowered on a daily basis by making luxury fun, glamour affordable and recognizing that confidence radiates beauty from the inside, out.

P.S. All of us are Knock Out Beauties!

Live to Inspire,


Expand your Fashion Creativity and Support a Mission

I have always thought of ways to try and jazz up my Lymphedema garments in order to compliment my daily fashion and most of the time it’s hard to do, because my day-to-day wardrobe can change drastically. Sometimes my fashion says sporty gal, while other times I am in comfy travel mode or complete opposite, fashion forward. I would need something that gave me the availability to adjust to my needs, yet allows me comfort and style.

I recently had the pleasure of being introduced to a product that have all of these bases covered, Xpandasox! Whether you have curvy legs, athletic calves, or slender stems, Xpandasox is a sock that fits every body. This product is unique in that it features the awesome xpandapanel in the back built into every pair, which allows a better fit that stretches 24+ inches and contracts to fit your body and stay up without binding or falling down.

They are not only ideal for complimenting Lymphedema and Lipedema garments, they are perfect for all types of leg swelling including pregnancy. From the xpandasport line, to basics, fun fashion and a unisex line, I was surprised to see the various types of patterns, trends and array of colors they have available.

The part that sold me on Xpandasox is that they are a “mission driven” company!  For every pair of socks purchased, they will deposit one pair into the “Sock Bank.” Socks are the most asked for item in homeless shelters in the USA, and they have partnered with organizations that will withdraw socks from their bank to give to those in need.  What an incredible creative inspiration that is changing the lives of many through a comfortable piece of fashion.

To see how you too can expand your fashion creativity and support a mission of giving back, visit Xpandasox they ship worldwide!

Live to Inspire,


*Please note these are my personal thoughts and not to be treated any other than or replaced with current medical advice.

We never lose with Lymphedema, either we WIN or we LE&RN!

What an incredible month of March! I can honestly say we are not losing with Lymphedema, in fact quite the opposite. As a Co-Chair for the Florida Chapter of LE&RN, I kicked off the month by announcing the first LE&RN Florida Chapter event, Lymphedema Awareness Night, March 29th 2016 with the NBA team, Orlando Magic.

LE&RN also launched a petition to recognize the first annual World Lymphedema Day, March 6th 2016. The Lymphedema community celebrated as we gained over 5,000 signatures! The US Senate, the NYS legislature and Ottawa, Canada all passed resolutions marking March 6th as #WLD, a day that was honored around the world.

I was blessed with an opportunity to speak about the LE&RN Florida Chapter and Lymphedema Treatment Act at a Lymphedema support group, which was held at the Lymphedema and Physical Therapy Specialists clinic in Clermont, Florida.  I also highlighted the importance of significance regardless of our circumstance and how to find purpose within our journey. It was a night filled with inspiration and empowerment for all!

The next day I started off the morning by visiting WESH 2 News for a live TV interview, highlighting the Lymphedema Awareness Night event and to give voice for the millions that are affected by the epidemic of Lymphedema, including myself. Later that day my Florida Chapter Co-Chair Annette joined me to prepare for the festivities. Thousands of excited attendees poured into the Amway Arena for a 7:00pm game. Minutes before the start of the game, the Orlando Magic welcomed me to center court announcing March as Lymphedema Awareness Month and the movement that is taking place within the Lymphedema community.

It was an amazing night with the Orlando Magic pulling out a huge win against the Brooklyn, Nets. Thank you to MediUSA for your generous sponsorship for our awesome     T-Shirts and to the Orlando Magic for supporting Lymphedema. To those who purchased tickets, supported by making a donation, shared words of encouragement and allowed our voices to be heard through media, interviews, national support and even center court at the game, Thank you! Your stance for Lymphedema is changing and inspiring lives around the world!

March, Lymphedema Awareness month has come to a close with BIG WINS! However we must continue to give voice everyday, because I reassure you we are on the cusp of greater WINS to come!!!

Live to Inspire,


For additional resources & inspiration please visit my Website