ST. LOUIS – Amy Rivera suffers from a disease that affects up to 10 million Americans and many people know little about it.
Today one of her legs is much larger than the other. She’s come a long way. Amy had lymphedema since birth but didn’t realize it. It never bothered her.
She won Miss Junior America in 1999.
Left untreated, lymphedema can kill you because your body’s lymphatic system can’t process the bacteria and it often settles in an extremity. The body’s immune system doesn’t work properly. There is no cure, but it can be treated.
Amy’s leg became extremely swollen. The doctor told her she would end up in a wheelchair. Finally, she decided she had to take control. Amy began wearing the wraps on her leg that helps push the fluid through her body.
She also started exercising and changed her diet. Amy has now started a non-profit called Ninja Fighting Lymphedema that donates wraps and expensive equipment to people who can’t afford to buy them. Insurance often does not cover wraps and other treatments.
Amy had two surgeries in St Louis that she said went bad. They were supposed to correct her lymphatic system. She has found a doctor in California, Dr. Jay Granzow, who will perform a lymph node transfer on her soon and believes he can return her leg to normal size.