Together with Professor John Boyages, Louise Koelmeyer was instrumental in establishing Macquarie’s ALERT (Australian Lymphoedema Education, Research and Treatment) Program, and has been the Director of the program since January 2020.
She also recently submitted her PhD thesis, after six years of part-time study – and all this on top of parenting four daughters.
We sat down with her to learn more about the amazing work she and her team are doing in lymphoedema treatment, research and education.
1. Something you’d like staff to know about
March is recognised internationally as Lymphoedema Awareness Month (with 6 March being World Lymphoedema Day). It’s all about increasing awareness and education about lymphoedema, lipedema and chronic oedemas.
Lymphoedema is swelling in a limb or limbs often after cancer treatment or trauma, and some people are born with the condition. Lymphoedema not only impacts individuals physically, but also psychologically, functionally and financially.
Our key message is that evidenced-based education, regular monitoring and early intervention is key to achieving optimum outcomes for individuals at risk of or living with lymphoedema. Our ALERT program at Macquarie has a multidisciplinary clinic that assesses all individuals living with all types and stages of lymphoedema and chronic oedemas.
2. Something you feel proud of
The reputation we’ve built for ALERT as an internationally recognised multidisciplinary service – it’s the only service of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. Our patients can see – in real time – what is happening to their lymphatic system using Indocyanine Green Lymphography (ICG). The team can observe where there is a blockage or congestion in the lymphatic system and assist in personalising management to achieve better outcomes for individuals living with this condition.
3. A Macquarie person you admire
Professor Catherine Dean. She has been my primary supervisor during my PhD studies, and is also my mentor and advisor in assisting me to redesign our ALERT education program under the new MQ micro-credentialling system.
Her energy, inspiration, commitment, dedication, encouragement, support and vision leave me in awe, and it’s been an absolute privilege to learn from her.
4. What you need to do your best work
Our AMAZING team of people who share my vision and passion for achieving excellence. Each person in my team has a unique set of knowledge, skills and experience to achieve our shared vision.
I also need the support of my wonderful family who always encourage and support me to do my best.
5. A personal quality you value in others
I really value individuals who respect and accept others for who they are – and the contributions they can make – without judgement.
6. The coolest bit of equipment you use in your work
The SOZO device has changed my clinical and research practice – it measures fluid within the body and can detect the earliest changes which leads to the development of lymphoedema. It also gives full body composition measurements which can motivate an individual to exercise and eat healthily during their cancer treatment.
7. A website or app you can’t live without
My Service NSW app during COVID times. My problem is that I often forget to check out of a venue!
8. Something you’re trying to do differently in 2021
2021 is the year for Louise! Since submitting my PhD thesis I’m trying to get a new balance in life and plan to have more time for fun with family and friends, as well as exercise including learning to play golf.
9. Your definition of success
Being happy and healthy! I’ve told that to my daughters for many years.
10. When are you at your happiest?
When I’m sitting on the beach with my husband Kirk, my four daughters, coffee and a good book!
Hear how the Macquarie University Lymphoedema Clinic helped transform the life of school teacher Sharne Willoughby in The Lighthouse.