Sjogren's Society of Canada

Sjogren's Society of Canada

October 10, 2013 08:00 ET

Two Local Women Change-Makers Recognized on First Canadian Women Changing Healthcare List

BRANTFORD, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Oct. 10, 2013) - The Sjögren's (SHOW-grins) Society of Canada is proud to announce that President and Founder Lee Durdon and Board of Directors Member Annette McKinnon were recognized on the first annual list of Canadian Women Changing Healthcare as transformers and leaders in their own right. Founder of the list, Zal Press, Patient Commando Productions says that the list "brings the spotlight on Canadian women who are changing the face of healthcare yet don't get the recognition CEOs do... Working with limited resources other than the sheer force of personal will, a finely tuned sense for innovation, persuasion and unlimited enthusiasm for their mission, they transform health."

Across the United States, a week is devoted to celebrate Women in Healthcare (XX in Health Week). These leaders are unsung heroes affecting change and spearheading the charge to transform healthcare on behalf of patients. 2013 marks the first year that Canadian women are acknowledged for their leadership.

Lee Durdon and Annette McKinnon humbly accept this prestigious nod. They hope that as a result more awareness is given to a disease that affects 3 times more people than Multiple Sclerosis and Lupus. Sjögren's Syndrome is the second most common autoimmune disease, yet virtually unknown by the public. It affects an estimated 430,000 Canadians; 9 out 10 women, ages 35-65, but men and children also suffer. Delayed diagnosis is common for most, taking on average 5 to 9 years. Lack of awareness and sufferers may not "look sick on the outside," adds to the delay. It even took tennis superstar Venus Williams approximately six years for her diagnosis.

Lee Durdon says that the Sjögren's Society's inception started out of pure frustration with the lack of resources available at the time of her diagnosis.

Sjögren's symptoms vary individually, Durdon says, but "just living with the hallmark symptoms alone of dry eye and dry mouth impacts every aspect of a person's life, including everything one enjoys doing, needs to do and their involvement in society. Imagine constantly struggling to chew, swallow or speak without sipping water, or burning, blurry eyes, severe fatigue and other disruptive painful symptoms. This is the reality for people living every day with this debilitating, underestimated disease."

Sjögren's Syndrome is a systemic disease affecting multiple organs causing extreme fatigue, muscle aches, arthritis, low grade fever, nerve damage, thyroid inflammation, lymphoma, reduced quality of life and other incapacitating complications.

Sjögren's awareness is the key to earlier diagnosis, better care and increased quality of life, while delayed diagnosis causes more serious side effects such as organ damage, life-threatening complications and lymphoma in Sjögren's patients. Research is needed to find better treatments and a cure for this overlooked and under-appreciated disease affecting so many.

The Sjögren's Society of Canada has grown and morphed into "something much larger than I first dared to dream but there is so much more work to be done to improve conditions for people with Sjögren's and stimulated much needed research in the disease," says Durdon. "Sjogren's needs to become a household name," so the journey continues.

The Sjögren's Society salutes these "transformers!" Congratulations and thank you Annette McKinnon and Lee Durdon for your tireless efforts and leadership!

Go to to read their personal stories and that of the other featured change-makers. Patient Commando:

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