An award-winning campaigner is staging a unique session featuring an eminent US academic at Strathcarron Hospice on Monday, March 20.
Margaret Sneddon, chairwoman of the British Lymphology Society, is hosting “An audience with Professor Stanley Rockson”, who is a leading specialist in his field.
He has been working together with actress Kathy Bates, who developed the often little-understood condition lymphoedema after suffering breast cancer.
Mrs Sneddon, from Bellshill, last year received a lifetime achievement award from the British Lymphology Society to recognise her work over more than two decades.
It has centred on developing and delivering educational initiatives that have impacted on practice across the UK and beyond.
Now, in what is set to be a rare opportunity to hear a top expert discuss the condition, she will be welcoming Professor Rockson - whose speciality is cardiology and the lymphatic system - to the Denny hospice.
Mrs Sneddon said: “Lymphoedema is a condition few people have heard of, yet it affects well over 20,000 people in Scotland and is becoming increasingly common.
“It is persistent swelling, usually, but not always, of a limb as a result of the lymphatic system not working properly to return fluid and other substances to the circulation.
“When someone has persistent swelling, called chronic oedema, particularly affecting the legs, it puts a strain on the lymphatic system, eventually causing it to fail and resulting in lymphoedema.
“It also causes changes in the skin which becomes dry, cracked or crusty and thickens it, making the tissues under the skin feel firmer than normal - and it can affect people for other reasons:”
Lymphoedema, or failure of the lymphatic system is not curable, although it can be managed.
If it is not treated, it is likely to worsen, making it difficult to walk or get clothes and shoes to fit and impeding independence.
It makes people more prone to an infection called cellulitis, which may require hospitalisation, and can be very uncomfortable or painful.
Mrs Sneddon stresses that the earlier it is recognised the easier it is to treat.
“Delaying treatment makes it more difficult and costly to manage.
“If it is recognised early people can be supported to manage it themselves with little impact on their
quality of life.”
The British Lymphology Society provides useful guidance to support recognition on their
website as part of the Lymphoedema Awareness Week Campaign see www.thebls.com
The special session at Strathcarron on March 20 (starts 5pm) is free, but ticketed, and must be booked in advance.
Booking details will be available on the Strathcarron website (http://strathcarronhospice.net/) from Tuesday.