Like many of my fellow breast cancer patients, the treatment I received (and am still receiving) places me at high risk for a condition called lymphedema that can cause painful and permanent swelling in the arms.
To help prevent lymphedema or control the swelling if it does happen, many doctors recommend we use compression sleeves. It used to be that the only kind of sleeves available looked like big ugly bandages, but LympheDIVAs, a company started by two women with breast cancer in Philadelphia, was one of the first to change that. LympheDIVAs creates sleeves and gauntlets so funky and pretty, you could imagine wearing them just because they look cool. I wear their product regularly, and have found them to be pretty great.
When I put on my "Lotus Dragon" one, people think I have an actual sleeve tattoo, which cracks me up. When I first started wearing it , I tweeted that it would also be fun to see Diesel Sweeties comic creator R. Stevens, who designs fun patterns for socks, gloves, and other wearables, create some stuff for LympheDIVAs. I am thrilled to learn that this happened! R. Stevens has designed four sleeve/gauntlet products for LympheDIVAs, and they all look great.
Founder Rachel Levin Troxell ran LympheDIVAs for some years, but died in 2008 after her cancer returned. She was 38.
At Rachel's request, her father Dr. Howard Levin and her mother, Judy Levin took over the responsibility of running the company which their daughter helped found. In August of 2010, Rachel's little brother, Josh Levin, joined the company and is now running it with his parents. They all hope that LympheDIVAs' compression apparel will continue to inspire breast cancer survivors everywhere to feel as beautiful, strong and confident as Rachel was.
Josh seems like a really nice guy who is very committed to creating products that people like his sister, and me, would enjoy wearing. I love that R. Stevens has designed these wonderful new products for them, and I can't wait to slip them on the next time I have to do a long airplane flight or work out (two of the situations that can elevate risk of a lymphedema episode).
Lymphedema sucks. These LympheDIVA sleeves don't.
Thanks for making cancer patients' lives a little geekier, R. Stevens and LympheDIVAs!
For more information on lymphedema and how to cope with it, check out the National Lymphedema Network.