Live your best life with Lymphedema.

Ashley Sweet

“Reach out to others, be fearless, dauntless and super disciplined.” – Ashley Sweet.

My name is Ashley Sweet and I am a 36 year old mother of two, wife, business owner. I love to dance, swim, listen to music, play my violin when I have time, read and binge watch shows like Outlander and Vikings. I have suffered from Lymphedema for 17 years after hurting myself while running.

At first, my ankle started to swell and my parents noticed my socks were “tight.” I laughed it off and figured it would go down since I had been running for years and ran track and cross country in high school and sprained my ankle(s) many times. I went to the doctor’s at my University and later in my hometown and had a battery of tests to discover the root cause of swelling.

Everything from liver disease to cancer was procured as an answer for my strange swelling and suffering. Meanwhile, 9 months had passed and my right leg was turning into a tree trunk. I had to wear loose basketball pants while walking to class, wincing in pain. The second to last doctor my parents brought me to seemed to have an answer, “It’s just a swollen leg. You could have cancer and be dying. Try not to be so vain, there are worse things in life.” I ran out of there crying, my leg still huge and bulbous and me walking in pain. I should have sued him. Finally, we saw an older doctor, a vascular doctor who had me do a lymphoscintingraphy – (which 16 years ago was basically 10 very painful needles stuck into each toe for two hours while radioactive dye coursed through my veins). My mom read gossip magazines and told me about the latest Britney Spears marriage news to keep me laughing. A week after the test, the diagnosis came in- I had lymphedema. We all cheered, not knowing exactly what that mean, just that I finally had a diagnosis. When I asked what the treatment was, when I could have surgery, the phone line went quiet… ‘You will have this forever. It will only worsen as you get older. You may never have children. Call us if you have any infections.’

I think at that moment, I gave up for a while. No hope, meant no life. Thank God my mom picked me off the floor and took me to MLD therapy, drove me and babysat me basically for a Summer while I “got better” and reduced my leg. I took classes for college and couldn’t drive at all. At the end of the Summer, I prepared to go back to the University of Georgia and my mom bought me an entire new wardrobe and I felt so good! I had compression stockings and many ways to “cover up” the lymphedema evidence.

Fast forward 16 years and I graduated from college, worked in corporate America in Advertising, got married to a handsome, sweet man, had two beautiful, healthy kids, lived in a large metropolitan, started my own business, helped grow my family’s business and live a very active lifestyle. Most of my friends forget that I even have lymphedema. I will always suffer from some “why me” and “depression” but I want to be the very best I can be, the very best that God designed for my life. I want to help others.

This past May (2016), my mom and I were on Instagram and discovered beautiful Sarah (founder of Chronically Motivated) and all of the lovely lymphedema family online. Sarah and other’s surgeries inspired me to do the same…finally there was hope, there was a plan!!! I was ready to Carpe Diem fully again!! I went to Orlando, FL and met with Dr. Klein in June and on December 14th, 2016 I had the VNLT transfer from my left arm to my right groin. Shortly after I did MLD and I already feel better and look better and my clothes are fitting better too! I am swimming, exercising daily and drinking a ton of water, not a lot of caffeine, clean eating and not too much wine!!

My advice for people with Lymphedema is to reach out to others, be fearless and dauntless and super disciplined. Even if you don’t feel positive everyday, stick to a routine and you will feel (and look) so much better and pain and infection will dissipate to normal levels!

I don’t go anywhere without my water bottle-in fact, I have a mild panic attack if I don’t have it at arm’s length!

I can’t live without: swimming, water and compression stockings!

Where you can find Ashley:

Instagram: @Ashbesweet

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Chronically Motivated Monaco, 98000.