Chair, Texas Chapter
Earlier this year, Vern created the #MOVETHATLYMPH Challenge for Lymphedema and Lymphatic Health Awareness in preparation for World Lymphedema Day. This was an online event via social media to reach the critical masses across the United States and abroad affected by lymphedema and lymphatic disease. Lymphedema has run in Vern’s family for over 100 years mostly undiagnosed. She believes that needs to change.
Vern developed Lymphedema Distichiasis in 1994. In May of 1998, she was driving down the freeway to work in Houston, TX post college graduation and saw a billboard that had two legs that looked like her father’s left leg. She called her parents and told them “I think Dad and I have something called lymphedema.” Vern and her Dad were diagnosed together that same month. By then, Vern’s father, Pete, had gone 24 years without a diagnosis. Since Vern's lymphedema was so mild, she was told that her lymphedema would never progress to her father’s advanced stage of the disease. She was told she need not worry about treatment nor learn how to bandage or perform manual lymphatic drainage. Twenty years later, Vern's LE was bilateral and had advanced to stage 1. Fortunately, she was able to reverse her swelling with complete decongestive therapy in 2014. It took an entire year.
After speaking with her father, she decided to create a blog as a tribute to him called Lymphie Strong along with two online support groups called the Lymphie Strong Inspiration Group and The Lymphedema Running & Fitness Club. She promised him she would “run for LE” for as long as she could. Her blog has reached 98 countries since its launch.
Vern’s father died of cancer last year unexpectedly after living with lymphedema for over 4 decades. Around the same time, she also developed truncal lymphedema for unknown reasons. This further solidified her mission and passion for LE advocacy. She believes that education and awareness are needed to prevent LE. She advocates for it to be addressed it in earlier stages, believing that further research can stop lymphedema in its tracks in her multi-generational LE family as well as others like it globally. Beyond her online support groups, she is a volunteer patient support advocate in the Lymphedema Support Group at Lindig Family Cancer Resource Center at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, TX. Vern wants you to #movethatlymph and never give up hope! We are all on one team, one dream for a CURE.
Vice Chair, Texas Chapter
Marc is a father of two, Zachary and Sadie, and husband to Holly, residing in The Woodlands, TX. He is a Global Marketing & Communications Manager for Pentair Valves & Controls. Marc is originally from Los Angeles and has been in the graphic design, advertising, and marketing professions for over 20 years. His son Zachary has lymphatic malformation. Both he and Zachary are proud and excited to be involved with LE&RN to promote education and advocacy for lymphatic diseases and birth defects.
Secretary, Texas Chapter
Born and raised in Fort Worth, Lauren now resides in Austin. She is a proud Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi alumni. She currently works as an environmental specialist for the State of Texas. Lauren started experiencing mild symptoms in her left leg as a teenager, but it was not until a major change in her condition in 2018 that she finally received a diagnosis of primary lymphedema. She is thankful for the opportunity to serve in this role.
Texas Youth Ambassador
Zachary turned 13 in November 2016 and attends Mitchell Intermediate in The Woodlands, TX. Zachary lives with parents Marc and Holly, and younger sister Sadie. Zachary loves baseball and plays catcher. He was born with lymphatic malformation and has endured eight different procedures/surgeries, the last a tongue reduction surgery in July of 2014. His doctor in Houston is Dr. Joseph Edmonds who said, when Zachary was only 17 days old, that he and Zach are “friends for life.”