“Our Hero, Champion, and Friend”
Where to start to acknowledge the accomplishments of Pat? Charles “Pat” O’Connor graduated from Portland State University, Portland, Oregon with a BA in history, political science and social science. He served as student body President for two years. He went on to do graduate work in Soviet studies. He studied abroad in Switzerland at “The L’Abri Fellowship”. His course of study was “The Intellectual Climate of the New Theology”. During his career he obtained certifications in customer service management, estate planning, life/health/casualty insurance, and an advanced certification in patient account.
· Pat is the creator and founder of the award winning website “Lymphedema People”.
· He is a member of the Lymph Science Advocacy Program (LSAP) through the National Lymphedema Network.
· Pat served on the Board of Directors for the Lighthouse Lymphedema Network for many years and was recognized in 2006 with a Certificate of Appreciation for his service.
· In the LLN book entitled The Puzzle: An Inside Glimpse of Lymphedema, Pat was a significant contributor. Not only did he contribute his story Go for the Gold, but he also contributed For the Newly Diagnosed and his beautiful poem The Lighthouse.
· No patient was more knowledgeable about lymphedema and the lymphatic system. When his health would no longer allow him to work, he devoted his time creating blogs that communicated with patients and researchers throughout the world. Pat was especially concerned about children with lymphedema.
· His mission was always to make both the medical profession and the general public recognize the seriousness of this condition.
Pat was born with lymphedema called primary/hereditary lymphedema. His twin did not have lymphedema, however, there were others in his family with this condition thus causing great concern to Pat when he learned that he was to become a grandfather. He was excited to report no swelling in Connors legs and no swelling in two other grandson’s limbs. Pat’s lymphedema was caused by “hypoplasia” of the lymphatics. This means the lymphatic system is constricted and or missing important part’s. Tests done when he was a teen showed that he was missing significant lymph nodes in the inguinal regions.
During Pat’s life of dealing with lymphedema, extensive fibrotic tissue of his legs, the diagnosis of B-cell lymphoma and eventual over-all body lymphedema including difficulty in breathing, significant new swelling in both arms, abdomen, chest and back, and the overwhelming pain, he had to deal with frustration and ignorance from the medical community. Eventually, Pat found 3 special physicians whom he admired and who would “listen” to him. Quote from Pat, “We know how lymphedema effect’s our bodies, what is (normal) for ourselves and what should or should not be happening. Listen, care about, and communicate with your patient”.
Pat died in his sleep on Tuesday, August 13, 2013. His smile would light up a room! His knowledge and work for patients of all ages, is a huge void! To Pat, our hero, we send you on wings to heaven!