Campbell River Article
Campbell River woman advocates for recognition of rare fat disorder
April 4 is Dercum’s Disease Awareness Day
A Campbell River woman wants to give a
voice to people with rare diseases like the
disease she suffers from.
Kim Wilson has Dercum’s Disease, a rare fat
disorder, but it took her more than five years
to get a diagnosis; five years of anguish,
shame and even ridicule,
Picture shows the lumps and the look of Dercum’s Disease in Kim Wilson’s legs. Photo contributed
not to mention the pain and discomfort of the disease itself and associated disorders.
“Most of the doctors and medical professionals did not believe me when I said my fat
hurt, and that the slightest pressing almost anywhere really hurt me,” she says.
Eventually, she had to go of the country to get a diagnosis of Dercum’s Disease. Most
doctors in Canada are not even aware of fat disorders, Wilson says.
Wilson has been suffering from the condition since she was a child. “I’ve been in pain
most of my life since the age of 4-5 years old. It all began as pain in my legs, and my
Dad had to rub my legs for hours so I could go to sleep.
The more I did in a day, the worse it was, and then I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in
1980,” she says.
When, after growing up, she had children, she developed multiple painful lipomas in her
sacroiliac (SI) joint that had to be removed due to pain when she leaned or press on them.
She always managed to work full time until a fall on the ice in January 2012 when she hurt
her SI joint and her health took a nose dive from then on, changing her life forever. She had
to stop working and then fought for a diagnosis over the next five years.
Through it all, she felt her condition was minimized and dismissed. She was able to get a
medical marijuana prescription from a sympathetic doctor but attempts to get appointments
with the few doctors who knew anything about Dercum’s Disease was impossible.
She then insisted on an “out of country consult” with world renowned fat disorders expert
Dr. Karen Louise Herbst in Arizona. Wilson had to pay all travel and accommodation costs
after having to appeal a decision to deny coverage of her consultation fee which she won.
She had to pay the fee up front but was reimbursed later.
“It was like I’d won the lottery really,” she says.
Her diagnosis was confirmed by Dr. Herbst in 2018 but along with it came two additional
diagnoses that appear common in this particular community – MCAS (Mast Cell Activation
Syndrome) and HEDS (Hypermobility Elhers Danlos Syndrome).
With Dr. Herbst’s diagnosis in hand she eventually came under the care of a BC Children’s
Hospital surgeon and was booked for multiple surgeries to improve her quality of life.
She now has a closed Facebook group called Dercum’s Disease & Other Fat Disorders in
Canada (https://www.facebook.com/groups/279451472953951), through which she hopes
to locate others across Canada suffering with a diagnosed or undiagnosed fat disorder of
“What we really need is to be given a voice, and be seen as the real medical patients we
are,” Wilson says.
As it turns out, April 4 is World Dercum’s Disease Awareness Day and Wilson hopes the
Facebook group will gather Canadians together who have a diagnosed fat disorder or
suspect one or have a family member with one. the group also wants to support each other
with shared knowledge on hos to navigate help as it is in Canada.
Fore more information visit Fat Disorders Resource Society: https://www.fatdisorders.org/
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