A warm welcome from the Sunshine State! My name is Amy Santiago and I am ecstatic to announce the launch of a LE&RN Chapter in the State that I was born and raised in, Florida!
An avid dancer since the age of seven, performing in the spotlight was a true passion of mine. It wasn’t until about the age of fourteen that I started experiencing symptoms bilaterally in my lower extremities that were literally slowing down my dancing career and transforming my body, to where I became determined to find answers. Various tests and appointments were completed with primary care physicians, podiatrists, vein and vascular doctors, even cardiologists thinking maybe I was dealing with a heart issue or heart disease due to family history. The constant search had me physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted. Not a glimmer of hope, just countless misdiagnoses.
Fast forward to 2007, my heart was focused on the new journey ahead as a newly wed, but as time went on the symptoms worsened, frustrations and emotions were slowly taking a toll on my self-confidence and self-esteem. My husband, family and faith were not going to allow me to face this journey alone. Their constant encouragement to never lose hope instilled a greater determination within and I was no longer going to settle for the unknown. Although I wanted answers, there was no amount of time that could have prepared me for the life long journey ahead. In 2011 I was diagnosed with Primary Lymphedema after eighteen years of not being able to treat or manage my symptoms.
I did not want to cause permanent damage to my body, so I immediately sought out numerous approaches to reduce my swelling and maintain my symptoms from an outward appearance. Compression garments, pump, manual lymphatic drainage massages, and bandaging are some of the tools I utilize. A more personal decision was to heal from the inside out, by changing my perspective on how I was not only going to live with Lymphedema, but thrive with it. A healthy lifestyle of wise food consumption paired with workout routines and mental clarity, has created balance within my body and the ability to control my symptoms utilizing all of these facets.
The frustrations and defeat have since turned into a passion filled purpose! My determination to create change, raise awareness and educate those in and out of the medical field is fueled by the millions whom have not been diagnosed, may just be starting their Lymphedema treatments or have been suffering in silence with their diagnosis. I have taken to the stage once again, but this time to utilize my voice by shining the spotlight on Lymphedema and Lymphatic diseases through a pageantry title as Mrs. Central Florida International. An amazing door of opportunity opened to LE&RN in 2014, and I beyond blessed to now introduce the LE&RN Florida State Chapter!
Our goal is to encourage all patients, medical professionals, businesses, friends and families to come together! As our Chapter begins to evolve and to take shape locally, we will hold inspirational fundraising events, share resources and support one another globally.
Let’s Spark Change!
Please reach out to me at
LE&RN Florida Chapter to share your ideas, stories or how you would like to be a part of instilling hope.
Together we will Live to Inspire!