2022 ~ 2023 BOARD OF DIRECTORS
CHRISTINE CHANDLER - President
Christine emigrated from England in 1965 and for 25 years worked as a Home Economics teacher in Squamish, Burnaby & North Vancouver. After completing her Masters in Counselling, continued working in North Vancouver as an elementary area Counsellor for a further 10 years.
After retirement in Jun/77, she moved to Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast, where she has chaired a 32-unit strata corporation served two terms on the board of the Sunshine Coast Community Services Society. and volunteered on the Board of Whistler Vacation Club involved in refurbishment and renovations of club properties.
Christine is now devoting all her time & energy to BCLA projects and making more time for physical activities.
In 1993, with no explainable cause, Christine developed primary lymphedema in her right arm. For the first 20 years she had very limited direction in how to manage the condition and suffered a number of cellulitis infections. In 2013, after pursuing further medical assistance, she finally met Dr. Weiss and Fatima Inglis at Holy Family Hospital through whom she learned how to manage the condition to reduce the risk of further infections. Her motivation in supporting the BC Lymphedema Association is to help others learn about resources and supports available to manage their condition.
Christine answers the information line calls for BCLA.
SANDI McCONNACH -Vice President
Sandi enjoyed a successful career as a Project Management Professional with Worksafe BC in the Information Technology department and retired in 2019. Sandi wanted to use her skills in a volunteer role and coordinating the Surrey / White Rock / Delta Lymphedema support group was a great place to start.
Sandi’s interest in Lymphedema stemmed from her cancer diagnosis in 2008. Having discovered a lump in her armpit, she was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer.The surgery to remove the cancer also resulted in the removal of many lymph nodes in her upper right chest and arm. While undergoing the chemotherapy treatments, she noticed swelling and heaviness in her right side and was diagnosed with Lymphedema. Living in Calgary at the time, the oncologist referred her to the Lymphedema clinic which was part of the Tom Baker Cancer Centre.
The appointments and treatments were covered by the province of Alberta as part of the cancer care. Sandi recovered from cancer, and with the support provided, has successfully managed her Lymphedema to keep within the mild to medium stage.
Her goal with the BC Lymphedema Association is to raise awareness for this condition and provide support for others suffering with Lymphedema.
Sandi resides in South Surrey with her husband David and son Matt. Sandi co-leads a weekly meditation group and enjoys reading, swimming and yoga.
JENNIFER BYRNELL - Treasurer
Jennifer lives in the lower mainland with her husband and two teenage daughters. She graduated from Simon Fraser University with a focus in Business Administration and Accounting and then continued onto become a Chartered Professional Accountant.
Jennifer was diagnosed with primary right leg lymphedema in 2020, 3.5 years after the swelling began. Many doctors and tests later, one doctor mentioned the word lymphedema. That’s when she was referred to Dr. Weiss and was officially diagnosed.
Jennifer loves to ski, play hockey, run and travel with her family and friends. After being diagnosed with lymphedema one of her biggest fears was not being able to do these things anymore because at the time of diagnosis it was a struggle to walk without an increase in swelling and heaviness. After finding an MLD therapist who taught her skills and techniques that helped to manage and reduce the swelling, as well as connecting with Amanda Sobey to start a fitness and nutrition journey, she slowly but surely claimed her mental and physical health back. She now knows that it’s possible to ski for days and run for miles.
The BCLA was an important resource upon initial diagnoses for Jennifer. She wants to continue learning about lymphedema and to connect with others with this condition so we can encourage, support and learn from each other.
JANINE LEITCH - Secretary
Janine was born and raised in Vancouver and received her Bachelor of Education from UBC in 1978. She has been a primary grade teacher in the Delta School District ever since, while raising her three daughters. She enjoys travelling, walking, hiking, cycling, swimming and spending time with her family. Janine has been a member of the BCLA since 2009. In the past, she has enjoyed “giving back” by volunteering at VGH by making one-to-one visits to patients on a weekly basis.
Janine developed lymphedema in her left leg due to vascular tumor removal surgery in 1998. She was not informed about this chronic condition as little was known about it in the medical community at that time. Luckily, she met her MLD therapist who has helped her deal with and educate her about lymphedema. Janine knows it is a challenge to live with, both physically and mentally, but she has learned that you can still enjoy life even with lymphedema. It just takes effort and support. Janine is always on the lookout for new treatments and therapies to help reduce her lymphedema. She is an advocate of a healthy lifestyle and a goal for her is to promote awareness and an understanding of lymphedema both in the general public and the medical community.
Members at large:
AMY BACHMAN- Membership
Amy Bachmann was born and raised in the tri-cities of Vancouver, where she currently resides. In 2015, she noticed her left leg starting to swell and it was not getting better. After over a year of tests, appointments, and misread results she was finally diagnosed with primary lymphedema. By this time her entire left leg and foot were double the size of her right. She was eventually introduced to Fatima Inglis who showed her the proper techniques and skills to reduce the swelling in her leg. Along with the correct care and maintenance for this chronic condition.
Since finding the proper therapy, Amy has been able to live an active lifestyle doing the things she enjoys, hiking, kickboxing, yoga, strength training, and jogging.
Her goal is to spread awareness of lymphedema in the hopes of being able to help others get the proper treatment and support they need as soon as possible.
WILLA CONDY SEYMOUR - Communication
Willa Condy Seymour has lived in B.C. all of her life. She has Primary Tarda whole body Lymphedema which started up when she was 50 and started in the left side of her face and neck. After three years of searching for answers she was diagnosed with Lymphedema Tarda and started looking for answers. Her Lymphedema continued to cross quadrants until it covered her total body.
She lives in Trail B.C. with her husband. Photography and writing are her hobbies and she enjoys spending time with her family and friends. Her favourite exercise is in the pool which she enjoys for the positive impact the aquatic exercise makes on her Lymphedema.
Don’t sweat the small stuff has become her mantra since dealing with her Lymphedema. That and spreading the word about Lymphedema and other lymphatic conditions.
Jenna LaFleche is a graduate of the Canadian College of Massage Therapy and is registered in good standing with the CMTBC. Currently living in Victoria, BC, she began her massage therapy education in 2009 while studying abroad in Munich, Germany at the Staatliche Berufsfachschule für Massage am Klinikum Großhadern. This unique experience has given her an immersive education in the science and art of therapeutic massage. In both Canada and in Europe she has had the oppourtunity to work with many different people from all walks of life to help her better understand the healing process and to further develop her skills in the nature of pain management, manual therapy, connective tissue therapy, and therapeutic exercise.
Jenna has expanded her knowledge and skillset in completing Level 3 of the Dr. Vodder Method of Combined Decongestive Therapy (CDT) and Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) in 2019. She offers custom compression garment fitting and local resources to better aid her patients who are managing Post-surgical swelling, Lymphedema, Lipedema and Venous Insufficiency.
Jenna hopes that by serving on the board that she can assist the BCLA in representing and lobbying for the interests of patients managing lymphedema, to provide a much needed greater access to care in British Columbia.
She emigrated with her family from Germany in 1957, settling in Winnipeg where she met and married her husband, Brian. They have one daughter and son-in-law and two grandsons.
Jutta attended Red River Community College and graduated with a degree in Computer Analyst Programmer. Her career was in the technology industry, the last 25 years with IBM. She moved to Victoria in 2008 to manage IBM’s delivery of services to the BC government and the Health Authorities.
Jutta retired in 2012 and since that time served as Treasurer for a 12 unit strata (until 2021) and now sits on the CFUW Victoria Scholarship and Bursary Society board as Treasurer.
In 2014, Jutta was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and was successfully operated on.
In 2019 her left leg begun to swell. After a biopsy on a lymph node in the groin, it was determined that her cancer had reoccurred. Then Covid hit and the actual diagnosis of Lymphedema took until mid-2020. With the help of Carol Armstrong and Jenna LaFlesche, she is able to manage the symptoms.
In 2020 after the diagnosis, Jutta joined BCLA as a member. In 2022, with the encouragement of Christine, Jutta agreed to be nominated for a position on the board and is looking forward to contributing to this organization.
MEDICAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE
JANET SPRAGUE ~ MLD physiotherapist
Janet is a Registered Physiotherapist BHScPT and Certified Lymphedema Therapist (LANA). She received her lymphedema certification from Guenter Klose of the Foeldi Clinic in 1995. Janet’s caseload is predominantly providing lymphedema therapy and physiotherapy to people with both primary and secondary lymphedema. This includes manual lymphatic drainage, compression therapy and exercise. She has a strong interest in patients recovering from breast cancer, melanoma and other cancers or surgeries that have impacted the lymph nodes and lymphatic system including problems such as axillary cording, radiation fibrosis and mobility issues.
Janet also has a wide range of experience treating patients with orthopaedic problems. In 2010 she completed her yoga teacher certification (RYT200) and often applies yoga concepts and poses when planning rehab and exercise programs for her patients. She strives to provide the best care possible to her patients and uses education, exercise programs and manual therapy techniques. www.janetspraguept.ca
LINDA (KOBY) BLANCHFIELD, RMT, CLT-LANA
Linda (Koby) Blanchfield is an RMT, of twenty nine years and 27 years of experience working with lymphatic pathologies including primary and secondary lymphedema. She believes that while volume reduction is important, patient education and self management are equally important.
Koby has maintained her status as a Vodder Certified MLD Therapist since 1992, regularly attending Vodder Therapist Reviews. She is a Certified Lymphedema Therapist (CLT) with the Lymphology Association of North America (LANA) since 2002. She has maintained her standing with LANA by attending conferences sponsored by the International Society of Lymphology, the International Lymphedema Framework, the Canadian Lymphedma Framework, the National Lymphedema Network (2016 presenter), the Australasian Lymphology Association.
Koby is also a Certified Instructor (all levels) with the Dr. Vodder School/Dr. Vodder Academy International and travels internationally to teach manual lymph drainage and combined decongestive therapy to a variety health care professionals.
CAROL ARMSTRONG, RMT, MLD/CDT, AGF
Carol is a Registered Massage Therapist in Victoria BC, who certified in Manual Lymph Drainage and Combined Decongestive Therapy in 1993 (Vodder). In 2004 she pursued training in measuring medical compression garments as a way of providing Best Practice Care to patients living with Lymphedema. Educating patients on the appropriate compression class and type of fabric for the stage of lymphedema is an important aspect of self-management for patients. Having worked with many severe cases of lymphedema and seeing this impact on lifestyle and disability, Carol is passionate about early identification and screening of swelling, encouraging patients to adopt early self-management strategies to mitigate impact and to lead full and active lives.
Carol, along with Denise Drisdelle, volunteer with InspireHealth to offer monthly information sessions on Lymphedema to patients at risk or who already have developed symptoms.
JENNA LaFLECHE (See Above)
COMMUNICATION COMMITTEE VOLUNTEERS
GAIL REICHERT - Facebook posts
Gail moved to Sechelt in 2011 shortly after retiring from a teaching career that spanned 30+ years. She taught every grade from 1 to 6 but loved working with children in grades 3 and 4. She also was a literacy specialist in a number of schools as well as worked as a Reading Recovery Teacher Leader, teaching teachers how to work with struggling readers in K to 3.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after retiring and had a double mastectomy before moving to the coast. Though she had great after surgery care, in Alberta, and was informed of what to do and not do with regards to lymphedema, she end up developing lymphedema in her arm as a result of moving a small empty hutch. She knew immediately that something was not right and within a short period of time her arm began to swell. Unable to secure any assistance from knowledgeable sources until about 8 weeks after, her arm became more swollen. The treatment secured at that time was unsuccessful and it wasn’t until a fitter in Vancouver steered her in the direction of Dr. Elliot Weiss, at St. Paul’s hospital, that she finally got the help and support that she needed. Dr. Weiss and his physiotherapist Fatima Inglis, were not only able to provide her with the treatment plan she needed but also encouraged her to become involved in the BC Lymphedema Association. At the time, they were both serving on the BCLA board. The Pathway’s magazine helped her secure the services of an RMT who completed her treatment team and was also instrumental in her becoming a participant in a couple of research projects at UBC in Vancouver.
WILLA CONDY SEYMOUR (See Above)