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Couple fall in love on Lymphoedema support forum

Two patients who are supported by our Lymphoedema Service fell in love after meeting through a dedicated support group.

Matthew and Claire Phillips, 37 and 33, who are now married, first struck up conversation on the online lymphoedema support group, UK Lymph Support in 2007.

At the time, the two were living at opposite ends of the country, with Matthew in London and Claire in Newcastle. Distance didn’t stop the two from beginning a relationship and sharing their experiences of living with long-term condition lymphoedema.

Although living with a condition that can’t be cured, the couple’s lymphoedema is well managed through treatment and support at our Lymphoedema Clinic.

Matthew explains more about how the couple met:

“Claire and I both started chatting on a support forum for people with lymphoedema over ten years ago and very quickly found we had a lot in common so exchanged email addresses. Over the weeks that followed, we spoke to each other every day and we both found it a hugely positive experience.

“Our stories of first developing lymphoedema were very similar and to begin with we both shared frustrations of having swelling but not having a diagnosis for some time, which is often the case with lymphoedema. Whereas Claire presented symptoms of the condition while at University, I was much younger, about 12 or 13, which interfered a lot with my education and in particular my love of playing football.

“My love of football actually brought Claire and I together, as I first visited Claire when Arsenal played Newcastle. For the next two years we struck up a long distance relationship until I moved to Newcastle to be with Claire.”

Claire tells us about the support they both receive from Hospice, and how the Hospice played a part in their wedding:

“In 2012 Matt and I tied the knot. As we both benefit from the support and treatment at St Oswald’s Hospice, we wanted to do something special to thank them for the care and support we receive. We decided to use the money that would have been spent on our wedding favours to donate to St Oswald’s. In return, the Hospice gave us pin badges that our wedding guests wore in the evening.

“Shortly after getting married Matt and I discussed having children. Naturally, we were both concerned about the prospect of passing lymphoedema to a child so we wanted to get a medical opinion. One of the consultants at St Oswald’s referred us to Newcastle’s Centre for Life . The specialist we met with told us that it was unlikely that our lymphoedema would be passed on to any children, which was a huge relief.

“Our first child, Benjamin, was born in 2014 and in December last year I gave birth to our second child, Lucy. Thankfully Benjamin and Lucy have no signs of the condition yet but we are keeping a close eye on them.”