Kathy Bates’ weight loss has “really helped” her battle against lymphedema.
The 70-year-old actress began to suffer with the condition – in which arms or legs swell up because of a blockage in the lymphatic system – after undergoing lymph node surgery when she battled both ovarian and breast cancer in 2003 and 2012 respectively.
And after revealing recently that she’d managed to shed an impressive 60 lbs., she’s now said the weight loss has helped ease her swelling.
She said: “I was terrified of getting it. It affects more people than ALS, MS, AIDS and Parkinson’s combined. Ten million Americans. But people just don’t know about it.
“Some doctors think it’s cosmetic and not life-threatening. Doctors spend 15 to 30 minutes on the entire lymphatic system in medical school, so if someone goes to their general practitioner with swollen limbs, pain and heaviness the doctor will have no idea what it is. So it goes undiagnosed and the disease progresses for years and gets worse and worse.
“I’m feeling great [now]. I’ve lost a lot of weight and it’s really helped with my symptoms. I just still have to wear compression sleeves or guard against nicks and bug bites because that can lead to sepsis.”
But the ‘American Horror Story’ actress says not all sufferers are lucky enough to have support, so she partnered up with LE&RN (the Lymphatic Education & Research Network) to help raise awareness for the condition.
She added: “When I heard those figures I got involved. I got very p***ed off because it was unfair. I’ve been asked to lend my name to a cause [before] and I’ve made it my policy not to do that, but this is the first one I’ve felt strongly about.”
Kathy says the best thing people can do for loved ones going through cancer or lymphedema is to stick by them, because it can often make people feel like a “burden”.
Speaking to People magazine, she said: “I think going through breast and ovarian cancer you feel like you’re a burden. I’ve lost friends because some friends want to help but don’t realise it’s a long process. So they sort of drop out. It’s a problem. I think families try to do the best they can but it’s very difficult to help.”