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Posted by Sarah Bramblette (@born2lbfat) · Jul 15, 2014

Sarah Bramblette - Patient/Caregiver Scholarship 2014

My name is Sarah Bramblette, I am 36-years-old and have primary Lipedema and secondary bilateral lower extremity Lymphedema. I was diagnosed with Lymphedema in 2001, and Lipedema in 2004. Lipedema was first recognized by doctors at the Mayo Clinic in 1940 and is a medical condition that causes the abnormal accumulation of adipose tissue in my hips, legs, and arms. I have an advanced stage of Lipedema which includes the onset of secondary Lymphedema.

My initial diagnosis was delayed by two years because doctors blamed my weight for the size of my legs. Often patients with my conditions go undiagnosed due to lack of awareness among medical professionals who mistake Lipedema for obesity. Many times patients self-diagnose themselves from information they find on the internet and social media then set out to find a physician who will confirm the diagnosis. Accessing proper treatment is then an entirely new and different challenge.

While the internet and social media are great resources for support among patients with the same condition, it is not the appropriate platform for actual medical advice. However, with a lack of knowledgeable physicians we as patients often find ourselves with no other alternative than sharing possible treatments among ourselves. And often find ourselves in the position of educating medical providers about our condition.

In addition to my personal experience I have also made healthcare my profession. I have a bachelor degree in Health Services Administration and am currently working towards a master degree in Health Law. I combine my personal and professional experience in my advocacy efforts. I understand the needs and concerns of the various stakeholders and believe this gives me a valuable perspective and allows me to better communicate as I can tailor my story and presentation of information to relate to many types of audiences.

My goal for attending Social Media week would be to learn the proper and legal way to share information and support without crossing the line into medical advice. I also want to learn how to present my message in an effective way to reach medical professionals and insurance policy makers. I want to further develop my social media skills so that I can continue my advocacy efforts to help fellow Lipedema and Lymphedema patients locate doctors and treatment in their area and to access insurance coverage for treatment and compression.

My advocacy and awareness efforts include authoring a blog where I share my experience living with Lymphedema and Lipedema. I am currently advocating for the passage of the Lymphedema Treatment Act and was selected to participate in the Lymph Science Advocacy Program during the National Lymphedema Network National Conference (September 2014).

I currently use social media to spread awareness about my conditions and to connect with other patients. I am participating in the HealthCentral Anti-Stigma campaign, will be hosting #hachat with WEGO. In addition to using social media I have shared my story for publication in Your Weight Matters Magazine (Spring 2013 and Spring 2014), Psychology Today (November 2013), and the Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics: A Journal of Qualitative Research symposium on obesity (Fall 2014).

Twitter: @Born2lbFat

Questions about the contest or the voting process? Click here.

SM Scholarship 2014

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Jessica Dekarske (@holliehood187) · Jul 15, 2014 · #

Sarah is amazing!

Sondra Jo Holtz, ValerieM, Sarah Bramblette and 2 others like this

Sarah Bramblette (@born2lbfat) · Jul 16, 2014 · #

Thank you.

ValerieM likes this

JillArmstrong (@jillarmstrong) · Jul 15, 2014 · #

To Whom It Concerns: I've had the abundant privilege of knowing Sarah for close to 15 years, meeting her in college as we served on a student activities board. I've watched Sarah experience many different avenues within her professional and personal life and must say, this road is the one that she was meant to travel. She would be an excellent scholarship recipient because she cares about her cause-and I believe she would be just as passionate without her personal experience. Sarah is determined, dedicated, and personable. She is a fighter who believes in the rights and fair treatment of all. She makes her friends proud.

ValerieM, Laura Baker, Cathy and 1 others like this

Jessica Dickey (@jessdickey) · Jul 15, 2014 · #

Sarah is awesome!

ValerieM, Sarah Bramblette, Laura Baker and 1 others like this

Sarah Bramblette (@born2lbfat) · Jul 15, 2014 · #

Thank you all for you comments thus far, this opportunity would be an a great benefit to the work I'm doing to further the awareness of Lipedema and Lymphedema.

ValerieM, Laura Baker, Cathy like this

Cathy (@cathylw) · Jul 15, 2014 · #

Sarah is a committed advocate and deserves this scholarship. Her advocacy work helps countless numbers of people.

ValerieM, Sarah Bramblette, Laura Baker and 1 others like this

ksitter (@ksitter) · Jul 15, 2014 · #

Sarah has many strong attributes (too many to count) but at the top of the list is her compassion and understanding of what we are going through. Most of us through out our struggles lose our voice and stop living life. Not only does Sarah live life to the fullness (despite her obstacles) she shouts it from the roof tops and speaks for all of us. Go Sarah! You can't do better than Sarah and giving Sarah the scholarship is like giving it to all of us. Thank you!

ValerieM, Sarah Bramblette, Laura Baker like this

Nan Laz (@nanlaz) · Jul 15, 2014 · #

As a fellow lipedema / lymphedema patient, I am aware of Sarah's activism in getting awareness for our conditions. I greatly admire her confidence and ability. I do hope that you will consider her for this opportunity.

ValerieM, Sarah Bramblette, Laura Baker like this

Laura Baker (@laurabaker) · Jul 16, 2014 · #

Sarah is an excellent advocate for Lipedema and Lymphedema. With this scholarship, she would reach many people and be able to spread awareness for these conditions. A well desrved recipient!

ValerieM and Sarah Bramblette like this

Michelle Vicari (@Eggface) · Jul 16, 2014 · #

Sarah will utilize the information from the event in a way that will impact many more people. $ well spent. Send her.

ValerieM, Sarah Bramblette, Michelle Vicari like this

Aimee Cleffi (@aimeecleffi) · Jul 16, 2014 · #

I have known Sarah for what feels like forever. She has always been someone I looked up to her. It wasn't until my son was diagnosed with autism about a year and half ago, that we connected better via Facebook. She was VERY helpful when it came to the insurance side of things. She also helped push me to become a better advocate for my son. Seeing her posts, and her self advocacy efforts is so inspiring and refreshing.

ValerieM and Sarah Bramblette like this

Melinda Cunningham (@melindacunningham67) · Jul 16, 2014 · #

Connecting with Sarah through her social media outreach has proved to be invaluable to me. Sarah has offered information, resources, compassion and community for those of us with adipose disorders. Keep up the good work Sarah!! Much love!

ValerieM and Sarah Bramblette like this

cleofet (@cleofet) · Jul 16, 2014 · #

Sarah should definitely be given the opportunity to attend this Social Media week. She has dedicated a good portion of her adult life to the cause of furthering the knowledge of Lipedema and Lymphedema to a mostly uninformed public. She wants to further educate herself as an advocate to help all those people that don't know where to start to get the health care they need and deserve. She has written many informative articles that bring information to the general population on many things. She has a true love of justice for all when it comes to their health. I among many others have learned so much from her and her attendance at this Social Media Week would further the impact she can have.

ValerieM and Sarah Bramblette like this

Barbara Bramblette Coleman (@barbarabcoleman9) · Jul 16, 2014 · #

Knowing Sarah all her life I have seen first hand the struggles she has faced and overcome. Sarah is a dedicated, determined, and positive advocate for the Lipedema and Lymphedema cause. I am proud of my sister and I know with this scholarship she can better spread awareness.

ValerieM and Sarah Bramblette like this

CrissyJones (@crissyjones) · Jul 16, 2014 · #

Sarah, I love that you have found exactly what you should be doing and that's advocating, educating, and inspiring. You are beautiful and so strong. Keep doing the amazing work you do. You are accomplishing great things for yourself and others!

ValerieM and Sarah Bramblette like this

Heidi (@hmduplaga) · Jul 17, 2014 · #

Sarah is one of those rare individuals whom experience a hardship and instead of giving up decides to fight for change instead of just complaining about the problem. She makes the world a better place by being active and advocating for everyone who can't of won't for themselves. Please give her this opportunity. She will make the most of it.

ValerieM likes this

Mb226 (@mb226) · Jul 17, 2014 · #

Sarah is an amazing person individual. She's driven, knowledgable, compassionate, and had far too many other qualities to list! If given this opportunity she'll make the most of it and apply what she learns in her daily life.

ValerieM likes this

Michelle Mata (@michellemata) · Jul 17, 2014 · #

Sarah B. Is an amazing person. She deserves the scholarship for her dedicated work in advocating and raising awareness in Lymphedema and Lipedema by speaking to her state Representatives, through her Blog and other social medias. She is always open to share and educate people about her lived experience with Lymphedema and Lipedema. She fights to end the discrimination, rights and for better medical treatment and resources for those diagnosed. Sarah's passion to learn will ensure she passes everything she learns while attending this event to everyone. I hope you give her the opportunity to gain my resources and knowledge by awarding her the scholarship. She will not disappoint.

ValerieM likes this

TammyJC (@tammyjc) · Jul 17, 2014 · #

I can think of no better patient advocate who deserves this scholarship opportunity! Sarah Bramblette tirelessly works on behalf of all in need of proper healthcare, including those with Lymphedema and Lipedema, obesity, and other serious diseases. Whether it is through social media, phone calls to legislators, conferences, or individual one-on-one emails to those in need of help, Sarah is the kind of advocate who can share her message with a smile, with humor, but more importantly with researched knowledge, determination, and dedication. I am hoping this scholarship opportunity does not pass Sarah by because this world needs more advocates just like her! She will take all that she learns at the Mayo Social Media Week to even more effectively continue her advocacy outreach missions and to continue to make a difference in the lives of countless others who need an advocate like her on their side. You can read a little more about her advocacy journey here:

Lippylady and ValerieM like this

sbRN46 (@sbrn46) · Jul 18, 2014 · #

Sarah is my youngest daughter, and has faced many challenges in life but has the determination to overcome anything in her path. Although I don't quite understand all the things she does on the Internet I know she is reaching out to help others and this opportunity will help her continue those efforts. She makes me proud.

Lippylady, cleofet, ValerieM like this

ValerieM (@valeriemills) · Jul 18, 2014 · #

Sarah is a passionate young lady about life and about the obstacles she is overcoming. She is determined, dedicated, tenacious, and a go getter. She is one of the great voices for lipedema and lymphedema in the USA at this time and finding a way to get help for 10% of the female population worldwide.

Lippylady, ccbbgc, The James like this

Ldybg62 (@ldybg62) · Jul 19, 2014 · #

I first found Sarah as a fellow gastric bypass patient. She had her bypass for a little while and I was brand new. What a wealth of information she was but more importantly she loved sharing her knowledge to help others like myself. Sarah had some unique perspective on weight loss because she also battled lipedema and lymphedema. I had never heard of either condition until I met Sarah and she was a real inspiration to never give up and to fight for your self and your health. Six years after my gastric bypass I too was diagnosed with lipedema and lymphedema. I knew without a doubt where to turn to get the guidance and help I needed and that was Sarah. Sarah is a wealth of knowledge and will advocate passionately for herself and those that need her.

Lippylady likes this