The New Normal: Living with Lymphedema After Breast Cancer

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Arm disability arising from breast cancer treatment can have devastating impacts on survivors’ lives. 

Breast cancer researchers funded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research have completed a national study of over 700 breast cancer survivors that shows that arm disability, including lymphedema, is not widely understood or acknowledged.  As a result, survivors struggle in isolation with pain, fear of infection, and range of motion limitations. Indeed, every part of their lives is affected, from family relationships to work, community involvement, and recreation. 

They have created a short theatrical production (called an ‘ethnodrama’) with women living with lymphedema to reach health care providers and survivors.  

In The New Normal: Living with Lymphedema After Breast Cancer, composite characters distilled the experience of 7 women with arm disability after breast cancer treatment. These ethnodramas were then performed live by some of the women for audiences of health care providers and survivors across Canada with the aim of raising awareness of the importance of self-education, screening and referral patterns.

Watch The New Normal: Living with Lymphedema After Breast Cancer.

It is also available in French as Vivre avec le lymphoedme suite un cancer du sein.

If you would like to receive print copies of the poster and brochure, or a copy of the ethnodrama on DVD or have any questions, concerns, or comments please email ( or call Susan Robertson at (306) 966-2363