History of the BC Lymphedema Association
The BC Lymphedema Association was born out of the vision, passion and leadership of the founding members, committed to building awareness of and advocating for people living with lymphedema. Starting in 2002 Catherine DiCecca, a Registered Massage Therapist and Dr Elliot Weiss had informal discussions regarding their concern about the lack of resources for diagnosed patients and the number of patients where lymphedema had never been determined. By 2006 Catherine brought together three patients who formed the hard working and talented team of people, dedicated to providing the support and education necessary to empower people living with lymphedema.
The inaugural meeting of the BC Lymphedema Association (BCLA) was held on March 21, 2006.
Board Members elected included: Deanna Trewin - President; Liza Aboud - Vice- President, Rayma Hagan - Treasurer, Lynn Holloway - Secretary, Catherine DiCecca and Annette Crocker - members at large, with Dr. Elliott Weiss - Medical Advisor.
This was followed by a ‘coming out party' at the North Vancouver Lymphedema Awareness & Networking Day at the Delbrook Recreation Centre on June 20th 2006 and Incorporation under the BC Society Act on December 15, 2006.
In readiness for an official launch, a logo and brochure were designed, followed by selection of a website platform and domain name, plus completion of the mission and goal statements prepared in time for the official launch in September 2007.
Registration for charitable status was achieved in 2008 and a toll free information line for members was initiated.
We are indebted to the Alberta Lymphedema (ALA) and the Canadian Lymphedema Framework (CLF) who provided guidance and direction throughout the process.
Changes to the Board of Directors and working committees have occurred over the years, some directors stepping down as their 6 year term in any one position expired and new ones being welcomed, each adding their unique talents, hard work and commitment to BCLA.
In March 2018, enrollment on the board reached capacity with 5 new directors joining the team expanding representation of members in many regions around the province. Membership both individual & professional has also grown over the years, reaching a peak of 200 in 2018.
Lymphedema Awareness or Education days were organized in 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2018. These events feature nationally and internationally renowned speakers and include practical education sessions for patients and health care professionals(HCP).
The accomplishments of the BCLA organization have been significant, but the challenges faced: lack of awareness, under recognition and non or misdiagnoses of the condition plus the lack of a medically funded service, continue to be the leading issues where the BCLA continues to focus energy.