Big Banana shines blue light on Lymphoedema

Mike Jelliffe from the Lymphoedema Association Australia Coffs Harbour Support Group (right) with members past and present.

BLUE is the colour as Coffs Harbour’s famous Big Banana lights up on Wednesday 6 March during Lymphoedema Awareness Month.

The ‘Shine a Light on Lymphoedema’ campaign is run by the Lymphoedema Association Australia (LAA), a charity aiming to ensure people with the condition can access the information, treatment and support they need to live well.

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The March 2024 campaign seeks to raise money to fund a dedicated national phone line to provide support for those affected.

“The ‘Shine a Light on Lymphoedema’ campaign is also an opportunity to promote the existence of the Coffs support group, and welcome anyone who wishes to join with us,” Mike Jelliffe from the Coffs Harbour Lymphoedema Support Group told News Of The Area.

“Our local goal is focused on community awareness and getting the word out to those who don’t know about us.”

On March 6, Lymphoedema Awareness Day, the Coffs Harbour support group’s main event will be an expanded offering of its usual Wednesday lunchtime meeting at JBN Café at the Plaza.

“Following our weekly hydro exercise group, we’ll meet at the café at 1.15pm where we hope to welcome any new people and we’ll have information available.

“We’d love to help others who are experiencing lymphoedema.”

The local support group started some years ago, meeting in Coffs Harbour’s hospital therapy pool with exercise sessions run by health professionals.

“With the pool’s closure for renovations we now meet at the Coffs Aquatic Centre every Wednesday at 12-noon,” said Mike.

“Our group focus is twofold, the first being a hydro exercise group which helps circulation through gentle exercises, the second being social support both in the pool and with lunch afterwards.”

Practical support is offered too, such as helping members financially to purchase compression arm or leg garments needed as part of treatment.

“As our members have all experienced cancer or similar serious illness which has led to lymphoedema, the group provides a safe and confidential place to openly support each other,” said Mike.

“People who have had lymph glands removed, generally from surgery following cancer diagnosis, are at risk of developing lymphoedema, or are experiencing it.

“It is non-curable.”

According to the Coffs support group there are many people in the community who are in this category who they’d love to hear from.

It is unknown how many people have lymphoedema in Australia.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report in 2023 highlighted the “lack of awareness of lymphoedema among medical practitioners leading to the under-diagnosis of the condition”.

To learn more about the local support group, contact Yvonne on 0438 231 200.

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