CCA Volunteer, Val Vaartnou Receives Canada’s Sovereign Medal

Val Vaartnou

Val Vaartnou, Past President, Vancouver Chapter, Canadian Celiac Association

Following years of work raising awareness on celiac disease, a Richmond woman has been recognized for her efforts through Canada’s Sovereign Medal for Volunteers.

  • Richmond News, May 3, 2018  1

Val Vaartnou was diagnosed with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder where the intestinal lining is destroyed by gluten, in 2003. She was the president of the Vancouver Chapter of the Canadian Celiac Association and spent years sharing information about the disease at health fairs, in schools and through support groups.

“Val has revitalized the organization, fully engaged a team of active volunteers, and has transformed lives of those of us who struggle with celiac disease,” said Cynthia Loveman, board member for the CCA’s Vancouver Chapter in a press release.

Celebrating Celiac Awareness Month

As May is Celiac Awareness Month, the Canadian Celiac Association is hoping to continue Vaartnou’s work of spreading awareness about the disease, while also supporting those living with it.

For Vaartnou, the vast number of potential symptoms of celiac disease make finding the right treatment critical. Left untreated, celiac disease can develop to malnutrition, osteoporosis, cancers of the gut, non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and in some cases death.

According to the CCA, an estimated 87 per cent of those with the disease remain undiagnosed and it can take 12 years to receive a diagnosis, on average. As many as 300,000 Canadians are undiagnosed.

The CCA helps medical practitioners, students, nurses, nutritionists, dieticians and other health service workers receive the education they need to properly diagnose, treat and manage celiac disease in their patients. On a national level, the CCA sponsors and promotes medical research surrounding the disease.