Hemochromatosis Awareness Month

Postcard Campaign May 2021


What is hemochromatosis?

Hereditary hemochromatosis, or iron overload, is a genetic disorder that affects 1 in 300 Canadians, primarily of Northern European or Celtic descent. It’s the result of the body absorbing and retaining too much dietary iron, which can lead to serious health conditions like heart disease, liver disease and diabetes. Are you at risk? Use our self assessment tool.

Stay informed

Our regular e-newsletter shares the latest news and research on hemochromatosis, plus stories from Canadians affected by the disorder, and events happening in your region. Sign-up here.


Contributing Artists

Sets of 5 postcards have been sent to all on our mailing list so that they can mail them onto their friends and family to spread awareness and keep in touch (especially important during this pandemic)! Let us know if you want to be a part of the campaign next year, and we can add you to the mailing list to receive a set of postcards.  Contact us by emailing office@toomuchiron.ca.

The following members have generously provided their creative works for this year’s campaign.

Photo of Elizabeth Minish

Elizabeth Minish

Elizabeth Minish is a long-time volunteer and Past President of the Canadian Hemochromatosis Society. Her father had hereditary hemochromatosis and she is a compound heterozygote herself.

With this May Awareness Month postcard campaign, she is able to combine her love of photography and gardening with  her on-going support of the Society.


Marilyn Kelm

Marilyn’s journey as an artist started when her nursing career ended. She entered Fraser Valley University’s Fine Arts Program, and never looked back. Although she was in her late forties, she followed the motto, “better late then never”!  Over the years, her work has made it onto other people’s walls which gives her a sense of satisfaction.

She thanks her daughter for discovering her hemochromatosis. It took her daughter 6 years of feeling tired and being checked for low iron to realize her ferritin and hemoglobin were going up and finally getting diagnosed. At that time, Marilyn’s ferritin was 1000 ng/mL. That was 10 years ago and now everything is stable. Both suffer from  arthritis in their fingers and toes which they attribute to hemochromatosis.


What are the symptoms of hemochromatosis?

Many early symptoms of hemochromatosis often go unnoticed, which makes it difficult to diagnose the condition until irreversible damage has occurred. The most common symptoms associated with hemochromatosis are:

  • chronic fatigue
  • joint pain
  • arthritis, especially of the knuckles of the first and second finger, and thumb
  • change in skin colour, either bronzing like a tan that never fades or a slate gray
  • abdominal pain
  • menstrual irregularities

Learn more about common symptoms here.

How is hemochromatosis tested and diagnosed?

Early diagnosis is critical to prevent irreversible damage and premature death. A simple blood test ordered by your doctor will reveal the amount of iron in your body. Abnormally high iron levels may signal hemochromatosis. Learn more.

How does hemochromatosis affect family members?

If an individual’s genetic test confirms the presence of genetic mutations that cause hemochromatosis, it’s critical for family members to also be tested. First-degree relatives (parents, siblings, and children) are at risk of being carriers of the HFE gene. Learn more.

How is hemochromatosis treated?

The most effective treatment for hemochromatosis is phlebotomy therapy, also called de-ironing. The procedure involves removing excess iron from the body by drawing off a unit of blood using the same technique as a blood donation. Learn more.

Can individuals with hemochromatosis donate blood?

People with hemochromatosis can donate blood, providing they meet all other Canadian Blood Services donor eligibility criteria. Once de-ironed, people with hemochromatosis can maintain their iron levels by treating themselves while helping others through a blood donation. Book an appointment to donate blood today!