The Bachelorette season 15 contestant Cam Ayala underwent leg amputation surgery amid his years-long battle with Lymphedema. After the reality star — who was eliminated during the third week of Hannah Brown’s season — shared an update on his health via Instagram, fans sent their best wishes. So, what is Lymphedema and how long has Cam been managing the condition?
Keep reading to get an update on Cam’s health condition.
What is Lymphedema?
According to Mayo Clinic, Lymphedema “refers to tissue swelling caused by an accumulation of protein-rich fluid that’s usually drained through the body’s lymphatic system.”
While the condition tends to affect “the arms or legs,” the outlet notes that it can “also occur in the chest wall, abdomen, neck and genitals.”
The website also indicates that Lymphedema “can be caused by cancer treatments that remove or damage your lymph nodes. Any type of problem that blocks the drainage of lymph fluid can cause lymphedema. Severe cases of lymphedema can affect the ability to move the affected limb, increase the risks of skin infections and sepsis, and can lead to skin changes and breakdown.”
In order to manage the swelling, Mayo Clinic cites the following treatments: “Compression bandages, massage, compression stockings, sequential pneumatic pumping, careful skin care and, rarely, surgery to remove swollen tissue or to create new drainage routes.”
Cam Ayala Shared an Update After the Surgery
The former ABC personality shared an Instagram carousel post on June 24, 2022, revealing that he got his leg amputated.
“Gotta lotta BROMENTUM with @b.rapp #amputee #CAMputee #FAITHoverFEAR,” Cam captioned the post at the time, which featured images of him smiling on a hospital bed following the surgery and a video of him using a walker to assist him as he pushed forward down a hospital hallway.
How Long Has Cam Ayala Been Living With Lymphedema?
Cam has been living with Lymphedema for 20 years, as he revealed in a December 2018 Instagram post that he was diagnosed with the condition back in 2002.
“This is something that I have never been public about because I never wanted sympathy or for people to feel sorry for me,” he wrote at the time. “In 2002 I was officially diagnosed with #lymphedema, a non-curable condition that is often misdiagnosed and completely understudied by medical professionals across the [world].”
The Bachelor in Paradise alum then recalled how “dozens of doctors and ‘specialists’” told him he “would never be able to play competitive sports” and that he would “have to manage this condition for the rest of [his] life.”
“Receiving that news as a 12-year-old boy was devastating because all I wanted to do was play [basketball], [baseball] and [football] with my friends,” Cam continued. “After visiting over 20 clinics, I was finally given some treatment options. Through manual lymphatic drainage massage, leg pumps, and custom compression garments, I was given a second chance to live a ‘normal’ life again. This didn’t come [without] countless nights of excruciating pain, swelling, and mental agony.”
Though he underwent treatments, Cam pointed out that he had his “first ‘episode’ of infection in [his] right knee” in 2014.
“The past 4 years brought me to the top medical hospitals in Houston, Los Angeles and Phoenix,” he added. “After enduring 13 surgical procedures, the only consensus that the doctors came to was … amputation. The thought of losing my leg gave me crippling fear and anxiety. How would I ever be able to dance with my future wife, play sports with my future kids and maintain a healthy lifestyle?”
Despite the difficulty in grappling with this news, Cam listed the few lessons that he learned.
“What I learned from my experience is that you HAVE TO 1) Stay vigilant in your journey for treatment and answers. 2) Empathy and sympathy are great, but you ARE NOT entitled to them 3) ‘Pain is temporary, love is necessary’ — Lil Wayne 4) There are support groups and resources available IF you seek them out 5) NEVER be ashamed of your story, it’s yours, and not everyone will understand nor is it your obligation to make them [sic].”