By Diane Martin
Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be president of a lymphedema association. I had never heard the word lymphedema until I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I endured six months of chemotherapy and a month of radiation and thought I was in the clear. Then, as a complication of an infection, I developed lymphedema.
My lymphedema journey
It started when I was showing my old English sheepdog. Somehow I managed to cut my finger. The wound turned into a serious cellulitis infection and then lymphedema. Little did I realize that this was a chronic condition that would impact my physical, emotional and social life for the rest of my days.
Five years later, I was diagnosed with breast cancer again and needed surgery and six months of very strong chemotherapy. As hard as it was to go through the cancer treatment twice, it was still harder being diagnosed with lymphedema because I knew nothing about the condition.
A hidden challenge
I don’t remember my surgeon, oncologist or any health professional showing me how to protect myself from lymphedema following breast cancer. Once I found out that I had the condition, I searched by calling all the clinics to learn more about how to care for myself.
After a long search I found a certified lymphedema therapist. And because I knew that there were others in the same situation as me, in 2003 I helped set up the Alberta Lymphedema Association to support all those with lymphedema.
Ready to help
We’re proud of our accomplishments to date, and will continue to advocate for individuals with lymphedema and help educate anyone who wants to know about the condition. It will be an exciting day when lymphedema is a word that all people know.
About the Alberta Lymphedema Association
The Alberta Lymphedema Association is a charitable organization that was founded in 2003 by a team of people who recognized the need to help people living with or at risk of lymphedema. A learning association committed to ongoing education of its stakeholders, the Alberta Lymphedema Association works to make a difference and empower affected individuals and their families to help manage this condition, always from the patient’s standpoint.
For more information, visit albertalymphedema.com.
Diane Martin and her husband Doug are second-generation Calgarians. Diane is president of the Alberta Lymphedema Association, and volunteers with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and the Famous 5 Foundation.