Hello, my name is Haris Petrou and I come from Cyprus (Greece). It is a small island in Mediterranean Sea. I am 26 years old, 1.89m tall, approximately 85kg. I work in a big photography studio in Limassol.
I had my first lymphedema experience when I was 11 years old in 2001, a day before I left with my family for the best holiday trip of my life on a Greek island. It was morning and suddenly I felt pain under my left foot near my bone marrow. I didn’t think it was anything but after an hour passed I had fever and my foot started to becoming red. My mother took me to my podiatrist (who in hindsight saved my life).
We went immediately to the hospital and he help me jump in front of the line because he said we didn’t have a lot of time, as the bacterial infection was running through my blood making my leg more red than ever. They checked me for everything and I stayed in the hospital with penicillin antibiotics for 2 weeks. That’s how Lymphedema came into my life. I had the same infection also 07/2005 , 07/2013 and 07/2015 but the first experience was hard.
I had to do physiotherapy at the beginning- 4 days a week to keep a balance in my leg, plus bandaging- which my family spend a lot of money on. I went to America to see a good doctor in a Boston’s children hospital who explained me a bit more about this, but there I saw some real of the problems that children have. So It helped me see the bright side of life. I went to America because in my country they had no idea what to tell me and who I could go to for advice. They didn’t even find out how the LE originally happened, but I believe I got the infection from a pool, as I was a swimmer until this happens.
I stopped swimming but I tried to start again a few times, but pools are dangerous for infections. Swimming is my motivation for lymphedema and when the summer comes I go to the beach alone, wear my sun goggles and start swimming. It let’s me be myself and relaxes me. When you put your head into water you can delete all your thoughts, problems, stress and you feel alive. It’s funny, because swimming was the negative that happened in my life to start my Lymphedema!
The turning point in my life was my family who helped me get over other people who looked me like I was different. Also I credit myself because I realised that no-one should have to feel bad because one leg is a bit ”bigger” than the other. I play football today, swim etc. I do things all the things that I wanted to do before lymphedema . The only thing that I can’t do is wear skinny jeans haha…
work with them until I succeed.
I am motivated with myself to succeed; people that see me standing all day and enjoying my work wont tell me that ‘standing a lot of hours to work is bad for you’, or doing things to succeed and achieve can harm you. You just have to do them if you are passionate with your work and when no-ones watching you help again yourself with lymphedema massage and exercises you know. I am a good photographer and I work a lot, stand a lot and do things that I could find 1000 reasons not to do because I have Lymphedema. But I will continue to do them and
Just be yourself and do what you want without being concerned with what others are thinking. But find the balance within yourself. Don’t harm yourself; but don’t leave things you want to do because you feel you cant do them.
Live your life, express yourself and take care.
My top 3 can’t live withouts include: Compression socks, bandages, swimming.
My best lymphedema tip would be to Swim. Swimming is my only thing; it helps the lymphatic flow.
Where you can find Haris: