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Area landmarks to 'Light it Up for Lymphedema'


Attractions on the United States and Canadian sides of the border will "Light it Up for Lymphedema" between March 6 and 8 in order to shine the light on lymphedema, a chronic swelling that has no cure.

In order to mark March being designated World Lymphedema Month and March 6 being declared World Lymphedema Day, the New York State Chapter of the Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN) has contacted the operators of attractions from Buffalo to Toronto to Albany to request the lighting of buildings, domes, bridges, and waterway in teal -- the color of lymphedema (LE) awareness -- in order to bring attention to the disease. This year, LE&RN also is celebrating its 20th year since its inception in 1998, when it was founded as the Lymphatic Research Foundation.

Lymphedema and other lymphatic diseases often are referred to as rare diseases even though as many as 10 million Americans and hundreds of millions of people globally suffer from them. According to LE&RN, lymphedema is a chronic swelling that can afflict patients either from birth (primary lymphedema) or due to traumatic injury, infection, radiation or surgery (secondary lymphedema). Lymphedema occurs when the lymphatic system, which is an important part of the immune system, is damaged and lymph, a protein-rich fluid, builds up in tissues outside of the lymphatic system. The chronic swelling can lead to pain, infections, deformities, quality-of-life issues, and sometimes death for patients. While there is no cure, treatments are available to alleviate swelling and infections and to assist patients in leading normal lives.

Lisa McPartland, a Kenmore resident who also serves as secretary of LEARN's New York State chapter, developed lymphedema in 2008, four years after she underwent a hysterectomy to cure cervical cancer in 2004. For three years, she visited doctors and specialists and underwent multiple tests before she was properly diagnosed in 2011 at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center's Lymphedema Center in Buffalo. She finally was told that the lymphedema in her left leg was the result of the removal of lymph nodes during her surgery, and she was taught the proper techniques to control her swelling.

"My primary doctor actually told me that I was just getting old," McPartland said about the time she originally brought the concern to her physician. "At age 33, that answer was not good enough for me. I had to advocate for myself. I'm thankful that LE&RN was available online to help me to see that my symptoms were due to lymphedema, and I'm happy I was able to find proper treatment at Roswell."

McPartland now uses compression stockings and a pneumatic compression device daily to keep her swelling in check. After all she has experienced, she feels that those who suffer from unexplained swelling have been left in the dark for too long.

"LE&RN taught me that lymphedema and other lymphatic diseases affect more people than Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, ALS, Parkinson's disease, and AIDS combined," McPartland said. "What I still cannot fathom is that with so many people suffering from cancer, how lymphedema -- which is a possible life-changing side-effect of cancer treatments -- still can be such a mystery. Lymphedema should be part of every cancer conversation."

McPartland spearheaded this lighting project for LE&RN, and she is excited that so many organizations plan to "Light it Up for Lymphedema."

"We wanted to show others that they might have a disease that is diagnosable and treatable," she said.

Western New York and Southern Ontario attractions/facades that will be illuminated in teal include (overnight from March 6 to 7, unless otherwise noted):
  • Peace Bridge: Buffalo to Fort Erie, Ontario, from 9 p.m. March 6 to 1 a.m. March 7.
  • Niagara Falls (U.S. and Canadian sides): The Niagara Falls Illumination Board will light the Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls teal from 10 to 10:15 p.m. March 6.
  • Buffalo City Hall Dome: 65 Niagara Square, Buffalo, from dusk to dawn March 6 to 8. 
  • Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, Elm & Carlton Streets, Buffalo, dusk to dawn March 5 to 7.
  • Electric Tower: 535 Washington St., Buffalo.
  • Seneca One Tower: 1 Seneca Drive, Buffalo.
  • Bell Tower of Rockwell Hall at Buffalo State College: 1300 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo.  
  • CN Tower: 301 Front St. W., Toronto. A standard light show March 6 will run for 8 minutes at the top of every hour and will be visible about 30 minutes after sunset.

Rochester attractions/facades that will be illuminated in teal overnight from March 6 to 7 include:
  • Xerox Tower: 100 S. Clinton Ave.
  • Legacy Tower: 1 Bausch and Lomb Place.
  • Tower280 at Midtown: 280 E. Broad St.
  • Rundel Memorial Library: 115 South Ave.
  • High Falls: Browns Race.

Syracuse attractions/facades that will be illuminated in teal overnight from March 6 to 7 include:
  • Barclay Damon Tower: 125 E. Jefferson St.
  • Syracuse University Hall of Languages: University Place, main campus building.
  • Syracuse University Hendricks Hall: West Zone on main quad.

In the Albany area, the Times Union Center Rainwater Wall at 51 S. Pearl St. will be teal for the entire month of March.

To find a full list and interactive map of World Lymphedema Day activities around the world, visit https://lymphaticnetwork.org/wld. For more information about lymphedema, visit https://lymphaticnetwork.org.

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