Leslie Diamond on Making a Difference

Author: Leslie Diamond (Member, Women Moving Millions) 

Like so many others, I learned the meaning of giving and making a difference from my grandmother, Bella Singer. She was the matriarch of the family and was revered by many. I grew up by her side every summer for eighteen years.

During my nineteenth summer, I became engaged and married my husband of 58 years, Gordon Diamond. Together, we raised a family. We were very lucky to be able to live a good life but never forgot the responsibility of giving back. Gordon, with his father Jack Diamond, started the DIAMOND FOUNDATION in 1984 to improve the quality of people’s lives.

My personal focus has been on women’s health. I started the Leslie Diamond Women’s Heart Health Clinic to empower women to take responsibility for their wellness and to understand the inequities in health-related experiences. I also gave a donation to pursue a Multidisciplinary Vulvodynia Program, which has taken off nation-wide in Canada and has helped many women understand this ailment. The Diamond Foundation established the Sadie Diamond Breast Health Imaging Centre, to allow for earlier detection of breast cancer, has supported the Newborn Intensive Care Unit, and most recently, founded a specialized health centre to ensure that women have access to the best in gynecological care.

For the past three years, I have hosted an annual luncheon, Women’s Health Matters, to educate women on subjects related just to them. Giving to women’s health in part is to educate and to facilitate women’s access to information and practitioners who only specialize in women‘s well-being.

Perhaps my interest in women’s health was sparked by my own experience with high blood pressure issues. I remember, as if it were yesterday, going to see a heart specialist. While waiting for what seemed like forever, I noticed that all of the diagrams and paraphernalia in the doctor’s office were dedicated to men’s physiques. When I questioned my doctor, he said, “Well, we are all the same, ARE WE NOT?” and laughed. I was so incensed that I vowed to make a difference and also, vowed never to go back to him.

I took my struggle to the Provincial Government and asked the then Minister of Health, a woman by the way, what could be done. Her suggestion was to educate. Our health system in Canada is very different than that of the U.S., and at that time in B.C., there was no health care service dedicated just to women. I was a women’s peer councillor at that time and was therefore able to start there. I became part of a women’s movement to talk about and educate women on breast cancer, which was becoming more and more prevalent. This eventually led me to join the B.C. Women’s Hospital Foundation Board of Directors, allowing me to travel and speak with women regarding the issue of breast cancer. This, in turn, led to many other opportunities to spread the word.

Most importantly, I had the vehicle and the means to give much needed funding to the cause. Thus, years later came a donation to Vancouver General Hospital for The Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre and a commitment to benefit women specifically. Since those beginning days, I have given funds to many other women’s initiatives including, B.C. Women’s Breast Cancer Imaging and B.C. Women’s Hospital to many other health issues facing women. We have come a long way since the early days of the mid-80’s, but still have a long way to go. We all can take our health care into our own hands by not being timid, by demanding the same professional care that men have, and by supporting ALL women’s issues with the strong belief that each one of us can make a difference.