Daisy’s latest extraordinary woman, Valeria, talks (in this first of a two part episode) about how she dealt with rapid substantial weight gain, bariatric surgery and a cancer and lipedema diagnosis. She also talks about how the current Covid-19 pandemic is impacting her where she lives in Rome, Italy.
Valeria Giordano is a 42 year old Italian who lives with her husband and 8 cats.
She is a language teacher at school and university and a professional audiovisual translator. She has just resumed her long suspended PhD studies after a serious medical condition. Becoming a disabled herself she started an independent research in media accessibility and teaching language and translation online by modular distance learning.
She talks about her long struggle with ovarian cancer and with lipedema which led to super obesity and mobility issues and the difficulties connected with the current situation with coronavirus.
Valeria suffered from restrictive eating disorders all her life, at least since lipedema symptoms appeared on her body after puberty to change it for good. Her main concern in life was to achieve an illusory ideal of perfection by which she would have controlled her crazy body.
In 2012 she had a personal apocalypse and her body was totally turned into someone else’s. For no apparent reason she started bleeding and bloating and she gained more than 100 kg (220 lb) within a year and a half. She was so desperate and miserable and no doctor was able to find out what was happening to her. She underwent bariatric surgery (RNY gastric bypass) and lost about 50 kg, mainly in the upper part of her body. Ovarian cancer and endometriosis were discovered soon after.
After the first cancer surgery and chemo the situation seemed to improve, but only for a short time.
The pain in her legs, arms and bottom became excruciating and started to affect her mobility. She was compelled to walk with crutches and she gradually ended up on a wheelchair. She was giving up on all the cures, tired of being dismissed from doctors who were unable to understand what was going on in her body and with her hormones.
The breakthrough came in 2016 when she was eventually diagnosed with advanced lipedema and hypermobility disorder. She came across international websites like Lipedema Project, FDRS society, etc. and she spent months binge reading everything about lipedema.
All the unanswered questions found an explanation and all the suffering and pain had a reason. She decided to turn this pain into strength and, with the help of some other lipedema patients, she founded LIO, the Italian charity association for lipedema sufferers. She is the current LIO president and legal representative.
LIO Lipedema Italia Onlus is a charity organization founded in 2018 by women with Lipedema. Their focus is on supporting patients, educating doctors, health professionals and the public about lipedema and its symptoms, so it may be diagnosed and treated earlier. Their belief is that with earlier diagnosis and treatment women can prevent developing further complications and manage their lipedema.
In Italy Lipedema is frequently mistaken for obesity or lymphoedema, so many women don’t get appropriate advice or treatment. Also lipedema surgery and the keto woe are generally discouraged because of a lack of proper education and awareness.
Valeria experienced keto and had amazing results in terms of volume reduction and relief of symptoms, especially pain. But many doctors discourage keto and then she found herself messed up again with ovarian cancer which decided to come back and ruin all the lipedema cure plans.
She ended up again in a wheelchair but didn’t want to give up again. Soon after the end of chemo she was accepted into a lipedema surgery path and she eventually started her rebirth by swimming, dieting, compression and liposuction.
Symbol of lio in the day when they were registered as charity in 2019.
LIO – The Italian lipedema charity that Valeria is the president of.