The Story of the Traveling Leather Lymphadema Gloves

It’s been emotionally cloudy lately, with wind gusts, occasional thunder storms, sun breaks and rain. 

It’s exhausting.

And keeping my emotional umbrella up feels a bit like fighting off a sadness-cold.  The sadness is minor, benign, nagging and irritating — and seems to hang on forever.

I get to ring the all-done bell today.  It’s a big loud muster bell on the wall for patients to ring when they finish their radiation treatments.  It’s a thing, apparently. 

I’m a good sport.  So I push through my emotional congestion, muster some bravado and really pull off a big pealing


Clears the sinuses a bit, that does!

The cheers and the smiles from the medical staff and patients touring the halls buoy me.

But there is a moment of pure transformation that happens right as I am about to leave.    Emotional Hawaii.

I don’t if she’s coming from or going to her radiation therapy, but she walks with the slightly shocked look of the-first-time-through.    Her breast cancer diagnosis is advertised by the lymphedema wrap she wears on her arm. 

Oh!  I wore that!  I say.  Hated it.  What a pain, right?

And look at me now!  I show her my muscled, lean arm, completely free of any swelling.

We talked about the bandaging, the wrapping and dealing with the dirty bandages and wraps.

I reminisced about my beautiful leather fingerless gloves, hand-made by a Pike Market artist and purchased for me by my beautiful soul-sister cousin Kerstin.  They are spunky, beautiful, and practical.  With these gloves I was suddenly a hip woman with attitude — not a survivor or a patient or a victim.

Give me your address!  I’m going to give them to you.

She protests a bit, offers money — But we realize what we’ve got here.  We’ve got a new tradition. 

She agrees to pass the gloves on to someone who needs them when her lymphedema resolves. 

We’ll all pay it forward together.

And imagine the stories those gloves will be collecting.

I am so happy. 


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