On Sunday night's episode of The Bachelorette, Cam revealed to Hannah that he has a difficult medical condition he deals with every day. Cam's health issues were first brought up when he told the other men that he had to tell Hannah something so severe she might send him home even before the rose ceremony. He didn't get into the details, but he said it caused problems in his past two relationships, so everyone was a little confused.
When he finally talked to Hannah, it was clear that Cam had been waiting for the right time to divulge this information. "This is not an easy conversation for me to have, but back in the year 2014, I was getting off work and all of a sudden my right leg locked up on me... They had to rush me to the hospital," he told Hannah after taking her aside to talk. "Essentially they told me I had to get an amputation. Life really tried to beat me down." He finish by saying he, "didn't wanna go into tonight's rose ceremony without being fully transparent" with Hannah.
The condition Cam has, according to his social media, is actually called lymphedema, and it affects many Americans for a variety of reasons. It can lead to other severe health issues, but Cam has thankfully found a way to manage it.
According to the Mayo Clinic, lymphedema "refers to swelling that generally occurs in one of your arms or legs." Besides the actual swelling — which can also occur in more than one limb at a time in some cases — symptoms include a heavy, tight feeling in the affected area, a restricted range of motion, aching or general discomfort, frequent infections, and hardening and thickening of the skin, the Mayo Clinic's site continues.
According to Medical News Today, there are two types of lymphedema — primary and secondary. Primary lymphedema affects about one in every 6,000 people and can be caused by a genetic mutation. Secondary lymphedema typically results from other infections or diseases, and is more common. It can also arise after cancer treatments due to how radiation, surgery, and the cancer itself can affect your lymph nodes and lymph vessels.
It's not clear which circumstance is the case with Cam, but he acted as though the diagnosis was pretty out of the blue. Luckily, it's not a fatal — The Cleveland Clinic notes that lymphedema can't be cured, but it can be managed.
In an Instagram post from late last year, Cam wrote a long account of how he came to terms with his lymphedema, which he said is "misdiagnosed and completely understudied by medical professionals across the world." He wrote:
"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 with countless nights of excruciating pain, swelling, and mental agony. Through the support of my family, friends, and music, I stopped focusing on my misfortunes and started prioritizing the blessings that I often took for granted."
That wasn't the end of his journey, though — the same caption reveals that Cam later faced a lymphedema-related infection in his knee, and he almost needed to get his leg amputated. However, after 13 surgeries and more diagnostic procedures, he avoided having to amputate. Judging by his inspirational caption, which appropriately closes out with a Lil' Wayne quote about pain being temporary, Cam seems to have come away from that unfortunate series of events with a brighter outlook on life.
Cam isn't the first person in the public eye to be open with their struggle with lymphedema. Actress Kathy Bates has dealt with lymphedema in her arms following breast cancer treatment, according to the American Association for Cancer Research.
In a 2016 interview with CBS News, Bates said she "went berserk" after she was diagnosed, and is required to wear a compression sleeve to help with swelling. She's since become a spokesperson for the same Lymphatic Education and Research Network that Cam advocates for. "I feel I have to do something about it," she said. "If I can use my celebrity for something real, then that's what I want to do."
Cam is using that celebrity, too — he was recently named a celebrity ambassador for the very same Lymphatic Education and Research Network, and even snagged a photo with Bates at one of the organization's functions. He's got no shortage of motivational quotes up his sleeve — never forget ABC: Always Be Cam — so maybe he'll spend some time after The Bachelorette advocating for a good cause.