Haikus for Lymphoedema

Today marks the start of Lymphoedema Awareness Week (March 4th – 10th) and since I am currently in Osaka, Japan, I thought I’d recognise the occasion with a local form of poetry called ‘haiku’.

I know, how very cultured of me.

The idea of these short poems is to give a brief window into what life with lymphoedema might look like. They are merely my thoughts and interpretations of the condition, some personal and some observational.



Photography by Maria Molinero, Unsplash


Please give up my seat?

Hidden underneath my clothes

I can barely stand


Lymphoedema is often a discreet condition. It can be hard to talk openly about it, especially in public.



Photography by Pan Xiaozhen, Unsplash


One leg like a tree

The other thin, like a twig

My skin rough like bark


For me, one leg is double the size of the other. Without regular skin care my skin turns rough and sore. For many, both legs and arms are swollen with lymphoedema. For others, the swelling can be in their neck, hips, stomachs, genitals and just about anywhere across the body.



Photography by Pablo Heimplatz, Unsplash


First, it was cancer

Then, my arms started to swell

What’s happening to me?


Lymphoedema is an unfortunate consequence of cancer, in particular breast cancer. After a hellacious cancer cycle, many patients are forced into managing a permanent condition they’ve never even heard of.



Photography by Leio Mclaren, Unsplash


Way up in the sky

Soaring above the ocean

My leg starts to swell


Flying makes for an uncomfortable experience for those with lymphoedema. The pressure causes all sorts of problems.



Photography by Derek Huang, Unsplash


Compression garments

Take a long time to put on

Stop us from swelling


Our compression garments often receive strange looks. But, without them, we couldn’t function normally if at all. They are a little tiring however!



Photography by Martha Dominguez, Unsplash


Something isn’t right

Itchy toes, a dark red foot

Back again I see


Cellulitis is a huge risk for those living with lymphoedema. After the first bout, your chance of the infection reoccurring increases by 80%. The skin infection can quickly become aggressive and septic as I experienced last summer.



Photography by Fedrico Giampieri, Unsplash


What a lovely day

Not a single cloud in sight

Better stay in side


On warm days the heat can be problematic due to increased swelling. For some with lymphoedema, a day in doors is a safer option.



Photography by John Jennings, Unsplash


Swollen, stretched and sore

All for a sip of white wine

Now it’s hard to walk


Alcohol causes our lymphatic channels to dilate causing us to swell almost instantaneously.



Photography by Jennifer Burk, Unsplash


What’s the matter then?

I’ve put on a lot of weight

Do you exercise?


Due to a lack of understanding from medical professionals, many cases of lymphoedema are misdiagnosed as obesity. It’s time for that to change.



Photography by Volkan Olmez, Unsplash


I understand now

What you might be going through

I think to myself


Having lymphoedema has opened my eyes to other people’s situations and suffering.


Have you got lymphoedema or any other medical condition? Why not try writing a few haikus yourself? It’s fun and cathartic, and a great way to communicate your emotions and experiences. You can see how to write a haiku here.


  1. Alexa Ercolano · March 4, 2018

    These are fantastic, Josh! I love seeing creative explorations of lymphedema — these are lovely. Thank you for sharing with us! 💙


  2. CyFit Freedom · March 4, 2018

    I was diagnosed with lymphedema and lipedema 6 weeks ago after two years of misdiagnosis and confusion. I’ve learned so much in the past couple of months and give thanks to The Lymphie Life on FB for sharing this post. , I’m now following your blog. LOVE this post and will work on my Haikus. 🦋


    • leftlegfirst · March 11, 2018

      Welcome to the lymphie family 🙂 glad to hear you have finally been diagnosed – such a struggle for so many people. A complicated condition is our lymphoedema! Thank you so much for reading – would love to hear your haikus if you would be up for sharing them!


  3. Ganga Kadirgamar · March 4, 2018

    Brilliant as always …. please carry on after your return xx


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