“Think like someone of action; act like someone of thought”.
Message – how is Canada actively promoting “World Lymphedema Day - 6 March”, 2019?
Because the adversary of the “Lymphedema (LE) Community” is a chronic, progressive, incurable scourge, the thinking-acting scenario that quickly comes to mind for me was (is!), to acknowledge and understand the situation (this fight is a war) and then to prepare and act, accordingly. Simply put, borrowing and paraphrasing from “The Art of War” (Sun Tzu), we need to know the enemy…and then battle forward. So, we need to be “progressive” in our approach, plus relentless (“chronic”), until a cure(s) is discovered. Efforts I have undertaken in promotional aid to “World Lymphedema Day”, since 2016, have employed strategic, operational and tactical means – war terms – as I ‘fight the good fight’. 2019 was no different in this regard. I am pleased and proud to promote “A Capital Idea!”. An abbreviated version follows – for more details, please send a note to the Canada Chapter at LymphCanada@gmail.com or CanadaChapter@LymphaticNetwork.org
“A Capital Idea!” – World Lymphedema Day (#WLD) – 6 March
Canada-wide promotional campaign, 2019, LE&RN: Canada Chapter
Overview: The Idea…& All-Important Actions
“A Capital Idea!” ...what is it, one might inquire?
[Drum roll, please.]
Well...from the dictionary, “capital” as a noun, it is “the most important city or town of a country or region, usually the seat of government”, while as an exclamation, it is “used to express approval, satisfaction or delight”.
From the dictionary, “idea” is a noun that is “a thought or suggestion as to a possible course of ‘action’”, or “the aim or purpose”.
So, for “Canada MALE (Male Advocate for LymphEdema)”, who favours “active advocacy”, “#ACapitalIdea!” combines the best of these two words: it began in Canada’s Capital, Ottawa, which upon establishment of “World Lymphedema Day (#WLD) - 6 March”, in 2016, became the first-ever municipality to proclaim THE day (OUR day). Thanks to Mayor Jim Watson, the Capital graciously renewed its gesture in both 2017 & 2018...plus, for 2019!
This year, for #WLD2019, I present a series of #WLD-supportive announcements under the aegis of a promotion aptly named “A Capital Idea!” They come from “capitals”, invoke expressed approval, & entail action with aim plus purpose.
The campaign was to be ambitiously applied to the country representing the second biggest land mass on the planet, Canada. Clearly, it would be a tremendous challenge, but it would be a beneficial one & undertaken painstakingly & persistently during the period 6 September 2018 to 6 March 2019.
The Canadian Community of Capital City Mayors, as I have termed the collectivity of Confederation’s capital municipality leaders – in its entirety, was approached with a specific “ask”. The “ask” was for recognition & attention by way of an educational, supportive & compassionate gesture (a proclamation) for the estimated approximately 1,000,000 Canadians afflicted with the progressive, chronic, oft-debilitating, socially stigmatizing plus medically marginalizing disease known as lymphedema (“LE”), on “World Lymphedema Day - 6 March”, 2019.
The carefully crafted “pitch” was made to the target audience. Importantly, the Mayors were assured that granting of this gesture(s) would be tremendously appreciated by this neglected community of Canadian society. Then, uncertain of their exposure to and/or awareness of this chronic, progressive, oft-stigmatizing disease for which there is no cure, I added a few salient points, while making the active offer for provision of any further information. (My thinking was this offer would help to grease the skids…after all, the adage reads “where there’s a will, there’s a way”. Of course, the opposite is also true, especially for otherwise busy municipal leaders, i.e. “where there’s a way, there’s a will”. My offer was to provide a ‘way’, to assist, while strengthening the prospective agreement to grant the gesture, the ‘will’.) The message to the Mayors continued that, despite the severity of this disease & the considerable numbers it afflicts, most living with LE are un-/under-/mis-diagnosed, thereby denying them the beneficial “X” factor trifecta of:
1) hope of timely, competent diagnosis (Dx);
2) prescriptive, LE-savvy care (Rx); plus,
3) all-important, case-specific & appropriate treatment (Tx).
To graphically illustrate the magnitude of this situation, I added that in the neighbouring U.S., there are an estimated 10 million Americans afflicted by LE: this is more than the numbers of individuals struck by ALS, AIDS, MD, MS & Parkinson’s Disease...combined! To put a fine point on this staggering statistic, I noted that even in passing reference, much/most of the general public is at least acquainted with these terrible ‘scourges’ so much so that they are often identified only by acronym, plus immediately recognizable. By contrast, even when clearly articulated as “edema” caused by obstruction of “lymph” flow in the human body, “lymphedema” reference usually elicits blank stares, including from the mainstream medical community of Canada & the U.S. In fairness, from my personal perspective, the adage that “doctors treat what they know” applies: North American medical schools, according to published studies, devote a paltry average of 15-180 minutes of study to lymphatics, throughout the course of four-year study for granting of a medical degree.
To wrap up the “ask” portion of the letter, I offered a genuine, heartfelt thank you for their attention to & consideration of the request. I then closed by assuring the Mayors that their proclamations of recognition would signal support for a sea-change of how lymphedema (LE) is viewed. Back in the mid 1990s, pockets of grassroots efforts in Canada & the U.S. achieved limited & qualified attention gains through an awareness-only day known as ‘Lymphedema Awareness Day’. To ensure full recognition, attention, & support...plus at a grander, global level, “World Lymphedema Day” was established in 2016 as THE Day...OUR Day. The undersigned, as I explained, is not only an advocate/activist/ambassador for the Lymphedema Community, but also a proud & vocal member of it, who very much looked forward to word from them, in the coming period.
Result / Status – & challenge!
At now less than two weeks until #WLD2019, the response has been positive, overall, even in circumstances where there was what I viewed as an “interim denial”. Like a dog with a bone, I was not about to be deterred: my mantra was… “act like someone of thought & think like someone of action”! So, fortunately, the denials came with caveat(s). As example, two respectful replies indicated that “proclamations were not offered, for any cause”, but with supportive comments & further suggestion to, based upon the nature of my promotion…to ‘try an alternate (higher-level) government official’. These were “municipal” leaders, after all – why did I not call upon the cross-town provincial leaders…they, too, represent the chance for realization of “A Capital Idea!” Given the foregoing mantra, plus that my long-time LE-related advocacy efforts include communications running the full gamut varying form local representatives to global officials, this ‘alternate plan’ was already in play, pursued & appears to be gaining successes. Post #WLD2019, I can update on what the LE&RN: Canada Chapter has fully achieved in its promotional campaign, “A Capital Idea!” Perhaps (hint, hint), there may be other news on a “capital” nature from beyond the coast-to-coast-to-coast campaign within Canada! (Watch this space in the coming period!)
Regardless of how the results fare for “A Capital Idea!”, Canada-style, by this blog I throw down a friendly challenge (“gauntlet”) to LE&RN’s domestic U.S. chapters to bring an American-flavoured “A Capital Idea!” promotional LE campaign to reality for #WLD2020. With that “gauntlet” now thrown down, I close with a plea to any/all components of the growing & global LE Community, to have a review of the #WLD2018 Canada Chapter blog, “The “A” Message (pronounced “eh”!) It provides a ‘call-to-action’ that, in many respects, has – unfortunately – not yet been undertaken in some locales, including in parts of Canada. I refer to the call to become “active” advocates, who do not idly sit by. Please remember: “Audentes Fortuna Iuvat” … “Fortune Favours the Bold”. Note – when weighing what we might have to lose, please, do not forget to factor in the beneficial corollary: what have we got to gain!
Good lymphatic health wishes from “Canada MALE (Male Advocate for LymphEdema)” & Canada’s “LE Advocate-at-Large”. Plus, #WLD2019 greetings from the chair of LE&RN’s first International Chapter, LE&RN: Canada Chapter.
To repeat earlier welcomes, please feel free to connect with me at LymphCanada@gmail.com / CanadaChapter@LymphaticNetwork.org or visit me at FB: Lymphedema – LE Nexus Canada.
P.S. – another plea: please do not forget to signal your support for the proposal/petition to encourage the world’s health body to dedicate & designate a future “World Health Day” to the Community, i.e., those living with #LE and/or other #LD, plus their supporters & caregivers. Remember, we are in this together. Proposal/petition - Designate “LD Awareness & Cures” as the 2019 World Health Day Campaign for WHO
As my university alma matter’s alumni outreach slogan reads: “we are here, for good!”