By Nora Hakramaj

A MUM of two is living with a painful condition that has made her leg swell up to three times its original size

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Videographer / director: Adam Gray
Producer: Nora Hakramaj, Ruby Coote
Editor: Sonia Estal

For 12 years, Lisanne Casalinuovo, 56, from New Jersey, has been living with lymphedema - a swelling caused by blocked lymph vessels. 

The drastic size of her right leg has made it nearly impossible for her to exercise, or even find clothes that are able to fit over both of her legs. 

Lisanne said: "I had an original fall 10 years ago right in my kitchen and I broke my knee cap and and about a year later my leg started to swell. 

"I always wore dresses and high heels and I noticed one week that my leg looked larger than normal and a little swollen. I was saying, ‘Okay why is my leg looking like this?’

"I believed it was some kind of a minor swelling that was going to disappear on its own.”

The swelling on lisanne’s leg unfortunately did not disappear, but instead gradually grew - taking a huge toll on her social and love life, even making her bed ridden. 

She said: "I don’t have any kind of love life. Like zero. I don’t date, I wouldn’t. Even if somebody looked at me I would think they are looking at me because of my huge leg.

"When my leg is wrapped, people constantly come up to me and ask, 'What did you do? Did you break your leg? How did you break your leg?’

"I’ve actually gotten to a point where I lie because it’s gotten so old. If it’s in the winter, I would say I was skiing.” 

Luckily, she has the support of her family, including her son Taylor Astin, 33, who helps her with any everyday activities that she struggles with. 

She said, "Taylor does take a huge burden off me with helping around the house, the animals and the yard. He does a lot of my chores. He’s taking a lot off my my shoulders and putting it on his own."

Taylor said: "I love her more then anybody in my life. She has always been a great mother. Just seeing what she is going through is difficult for any son or daughter. 

"I want to make sure that if there is not a cure for her we can at least get her to a point where it makes her happy. Seeing her happy would make not only me, but the rest of my family happy as well.” 

Lisanne's mother also suffered with lymphedema for the past twenty years that was triggered after tripping over a toy and injuring her leg. 

Lisanne said: “She had it on one leg and it became swollen and would hurt, but it was nothing like this. It was just like I was for the first stage.

“It is very much genetic. It can run in the whole family. My kids can get it, my sisters and all of us can get it and it is kind of frightening."

After years of struggling to find support for her condition and with no cure, Lisanne finally found a nurse who was able to help her manage her symptoms and wrap her leg properly six days a week. 

She said: "I couldn’t get any help about four and a half years ago. I mean I literally begged God to give me any answer. I didn’t know what was going to happen with me. 

"Then I found the answer and that same day, within minutes of begging God, I went on the computer and her name was on the computer and I had hope."

In order to contain the swelling, Lisanne is required to wrap her leg and receive a light massage called manual lymphatic drainage - which opens up her lymphatic muscles.

“To hear someone was gonna help me out I was thrilled. For the next four months we worked on this leg and she got it down significantly,” she said. 

“The swelling going down on the bottom of my leg has made such a difference."

Insurance does not cover the cost of the daily wraps that can cost up to $1,500. 

Liane has now started a campaign, which she hopes will help her with the costs of the compression supplies and any other medical bills. 

She said: "I hope that my leg will go down to normal. I want to go back to doing the things around my house without having to look at it as a chore and looking at it as a joy again like I used to.

"I would love to be healthy enough to be able to speak about it publicly so other people know upfront what to do when it first happens. That you need to get out there. The minute you see your leg swelling run to someone who knows what they are doing.    

“The word lymphedema needs to be out there a lot more then it is.”

To help donate to Lisanne's campaign visit: https://www.youcaring.com/lisannecasalinuovo-961021