In Quebec, we are very lucky that lymphedema is accepted as an illness. That means that people who suffer from cancer-caused lymphedema are eligible to get lymphatic drainage treatments through a hospital or a certified clinic that offers the services. The RAMQ also pays for a new compressive garment every six months, allowing the person to properly control and manage their lymphedema once the treatments are completed. A lymphatic drainage treatment program for lymphedema requires 15 to 20 appointments that need to be done in a 3-5 week period in order to ensure the efficacy and maximum reduction of the fluid levels.
Many people don’t have the budget for a lymphatic drainage massage program so a free program through the hospital is welcome. However, the downside of the free treatments from the hospital is the waiting time. In some hospitals, it can be a waiting period as short of 6 months and as long as 18 months. These wait times, in many cases, will create an environment that favors a large fluid in the area of the body that is affected. Some people experience a rapid increase in fluid levels and for others, lymphedema takes years to develop. Someone who has a quick onset of lymphedema, unfortunately, can’t afford to wait 6-18 months in order to receive treatments. Excessive wait times will mean:
Once the skin has stretched a lot, even when the fluid levels will have decreased, the excess skin will remain, making it difficult to find clothes, and an area of decreased resistance to fluid pressure.