Recently I came across the following YouTube video which told the story of a very young man who had lymphoedema in the UK and completely transformed his life despite facing hospitalizations and infections we all know come with living with LE.
As founder of The Lymphedema Running & Fitness Club where we have over 2K members from 78 different countries, I am always trying to find as many different perspectives on fitness from around the world.
I reached out personally to Mo, and he was so kind and friendly. He agreed to sharing part of his journey to motivation and transformation on my blog. Thank you, Mo, for taking time out to write about LE and for being so nice to a random strange lady from across the pond in the United States from Texas. I am sending you all the best wishes for continued success in your career and future endeavors.
This is what Mo had to say in his own words.
Tell us about yourself and your hobbies
My name is Mo Samuels. I’m 23 years old and from the southwest of the UK.
Living near the sea my hobbies have always revolved around the ocean. Growing up I used to surf, skate and dive whenever I could; then I went to university to study marine biology with the aims of working on films shot underwater. I’ve got a degree in marine biology, but rather than doing that I create YouTube videos full time and work with brands creating content.
What was it like to be a teen with lymphoedema?
Difficult at times but I think so is everyones teenage years and it’s just part of growing up. We as humans are resilient creatures and learn to live with the hand we’re dealt. Everyone has their struggles but you just get on with it as it becomes your normal day to day life.
I think the biggest issue I faced when I was younger was worrying about what people thought regarding the hosiery I had to wear. I used to wear one up to my knee, and it really bothered my especially in my younger years at school – I was incredibly insecure about it and how it looked. So yes, it was difficult and affected me when I was young and quite often I wouldn’t do things such as go to the beach or go places with friends because I was worried about how it looked.
What I’ve come to realise now though is that a lot of the limitations and things you think you can’t do are nothing more than your own insecurities telling you you can’t. I now wear a thigh length support everyday in order to function and couldn’t care any less.
Weaknesses can be turned into strengths if you let them and the issues I have, have truly shaped who I am today as a person and the direction of my life.
You are in your early 20’s now. What would you say to another young person who just found out they had lymphoedema?
Everyone has obstacles and issues they need to overcome at periods in their life and this happens to be one of yours. You’re not special in the sense that you’re really hard done by, there are people far worse off and as long as you’re not an idiot and take care of yourself your life is going to be great.
Adversity shapes people and builds character – champions are born from times of hardship, comfort breeds mediocrity. I’d be on a completely different path if I didn’t have the issues I do with my leg and the most positive aspects of my mindset have certainly manifested from it.
Most important bit of advice I can give is not to care. For me a big issue was looking different because of this black suspender I had to wear on my leg. I’ve come to realise that we as humans are never going to be completely happy with our physical appearance and always find flaws. You fix one thing, you find something else.
Rather than constantly looking for perfection which doesn’t exist accept it for what it is and turn your weakness into strength.
Own it – I make an effort to deliberately show my leg on social media and as long as you’re confident in yourself people are only going to support you and look up to you. The world doesn’t revolve around you and quite frankly no one cares other than yourself that you have a swollen limb/wear some weird compression garment.
People are going to look, but out of curiosity.
Our brains have developed over thousands of years to pick up on things that stand out in the environment. If you saw someone with a massive scar on their face walk past on the street you’re going to be drawn to it for a split second and probably look – doesn’t mean that you have some judgmental bias towards the person, more so you’ve evolved to pick up on things that stand out from the norm and you’re just curious. After approximately 2 seconds you would have forgot about the person. The same thing with worrying about people looking or judging you on appearance.
The thing I could stress the most is be uncomfortable and get scared. If you have a fear of being judged or looked at then make that happen. Do the things that scare you because that’s the only way you’ll over come then and once you’ve done that you’ll feel on top of the world.
Learn to laugh at yourself and own it.
What is it like to battle unexpected infections and hospitalizations when you have big plans in place?
Obviously it’s not ideal. I’ve been hospitalised a couple of times, most recently was on my birthday, where I was in London alone, missed a family holiday, missed a festival over the week as well as meeting up and filming with some of my favourite producers. Missing out on things sucks, but there’s always good to be taken from the bad.
Compared to previous times spent in hospital I was in a very good place mentally which is a victory in itself and you’ve got to look at the big picture – be grateful that you’re usually healthy, usually able to go outside, you don’t spend your entire life in a hospital and grateful for being alive.
You are not shy about sporting your garment in the gym. Explain why.
Touched on this a little bit earlier – I was shy but I came to realise that the world didn’t revolve around me and no one really cares about my issues or what I look like. Only I care about that. The way people perceive you and treat you is often a reflection of the way you act and the things you do.
I used to be incredibly insecure to the point where when I had my first proper girlfriend I’d go to the bathroom to get changed etc. If you can make a joke about yourself and not care then the people around you aren’t going to care either. Face your insecurities head on and once everything is in the open you have nothing left to hide thus no more insecurities or things to worry about.
I’ll deliberately wear shorts to make me feel uncomfortable, I’ll deliberately wear a speedos in public and make people stare and judge me – because that’s what I fear. To be judged and looked at and once you’ve done it enough you begin not to care anymore. You constantly make yourself scared and step out of your comfort zone and you begin to enjoy it, and once you’ve conquered it, it feels great. If you want to overcome something you address it head on. Nothing grows from comfort and if something scares you it means you should be doing it.
Note: All photo and video credits are owned by Mo Samuels.
YouTube: Mo Samuels
Facebook: Mo Samuels