"I Was Really, Really Angry": Kathy Bates Opened About Her Struggle With Lymphedema And What She Does To Help Others

Date August 21, 2018

Have you heard about lymphedema? It’s a common complication which cancer patients develop if they have some of their lymph nodes removed as part of their treatment, although other factors may cause it, too. It seems that this condition hasn’t been getting enough attention, despite the fact that an estimated 10 million Americans are affected by it. One of the people who decided to challenge the lack of awareness about lymphedema is Kathy Bates.


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Kathy Bates' struggle

In 2012, the actress was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had to undergo a double mastectomy and had 19 of her lymph nodes removed.

Fortunately, her cancer was cured. But what Bates wasn’t prepared for was the lasting complication her cancer treatment would cause. The actress developed lymphedema in both of her arms.


READ ALSO: Kathy Bates Survived Both Ovarian Cancer And Breast Cancer, But Now She Has To Deal With A Serious Complication Her Treatment Caused

She beat cancer two times (the actress was also treated for ovarian cancer in 2003), and now this? Bates felt it was unfair. She told Lee Cowan of CBS Sunday Morning:

I went berserk, I went nuts, and for a long time after that, I was really, really angry. I just turned into another person. I just felt betrayed, I felt enraged.


Lymphedema can be seriously limiting. The chronic swelling can be kept under control to some degree with physical therapy and compression garments, but many regular daily activities can turn into a struggle. Bates wrote about her own experience:

I can’t lift more than a few pounds. I need to be careful not to get a cut that might develop into an infection. I have to have blood drawn from the less affected arm. The same goes with blood pressure cuffs. I have to stay out of hot showers, steam rooms and jacuzzis. It was very difficult for me to work in the New Orleans heat. The list goes on.


What Bates is doing for her fellow lymphedema sufferers

When Bates learned how common the condition is, she decided she needed to act to make other lymphedema sufferers’ voices heard. She partnered with Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN) in order to spread the word about this debilitating condition and raise money for research that may lead to better treatments.


Kathy Bates’ efforts didn’t go unnoticed. Many people are grateful for her work, and some even say the actress helped them come to terms with their condition.

It’s good to know that there are people like Kathy Bates who are willing to use their celebrity status and personal experience to help others struggling with cancer, cancer treatment, and its complications, such as lymphedema. Keep up the good work, Kathy!

READ ALSO: American Actress Kathy Bates Overcame Cancer Twice But Didn't Lose Her Sense Of Humor

Kathy Bates