March 6, 2021 marks the 6th annual World Lymphedema Day. The Town of Ladysmith has formally proclaimed March 6 as World Lymphedema Day in Ladysmith as well.
Lymphedema is often misunderstood, and undiagnosed. Mid Island Lymphedema Support Group facilitator, Lynn Holloway, said it’s important to recognize the disease so that more people can be aware of those who suffer from lymphedema.
“Citizens in the Ladysmith area could very well be going undiagnosed as there is no specialty area of medicine that diagnoses lymphedema and our general practitioners learn very little about the lymphatic system in their training.”
Holloway in one of the founding members of the BC Lymphedema Association, a non-profit working to promote optimal healthy living with lymphedema, and improve access to treatment in British Columbia.
Lymphedema is an incurable disease afflicting 250 million people worldwide. It is estimated that one million Canadians are affected and about 130,00 in British Columbia.
Lymphedema is caused by damage to the lymphatic system through surgery, trauma, cancer treatment or genetic malfunction leading to improper development or dysfunction of the system. Lymphatic fluid accumulates in the tissues resulting in chronic and disfiguring swelling in one or more parts of the body.
The lymphatic system assists in maintaining fluid balance in the body and is an integral part of the immune system, transporting infection-fighting cells to tissues that require assistance. The affected part(s) of the body becomes prone to cellulitis infections. Complications from cellulitis can have serious, potentially life-threatening consequences.
Management of this disease is costly, requiring daily or regular use of medical devices such as compression garments, pneumatic compression pumps, or specialized custom wraps and bandages. Garments and medical devices can range in price from around $100 to upwards of $10,000.
Many people with lymphedema are unable to work to at their former capacities or are on fixed incomes. All of these combine to create financial hardship for those with lymphedema that have to deal with this expensive condition on their own.
If you have or know of someone with lymphedema, please contact the BC Lymphedema Association at 1-866-991-2252. Visit the BC Lymphedema Association website at www.bclymph.org.