Name: LaSheila Yates

Location: Cedar Rapids, IA

Age: 38

Pain warrior role: U.S. Pain advocate since 2019

Health conditions: ulcerative colitis, pelvic floor dysfunction, neuropathic pain, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), pouchitis, cuffitis, and uveitis

Favorite tip for others with chronic pain: “Be kind to yourself and own your narrative. I’d spent years being angry at my body for failing me at such a young age. I had ambitions, career goals, and felt like it was taken way from me, bit by bit. I still have my rough days, but I give myself grace when times are rough. The mantras I’ve now adopted are ‘I’m owning my story and I’m owning my narrative.’ Both are sweet reminders that everything I’ve endured are part of my life’s journey. I’m Owning It!”

What’s a fun fact about you: “I was the 2013 Mrs. Iowa International. My platform focused on promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) educational and career opportunities for underserved communities. I was the director for Cedar Rapids’ first city wide STEM festivals 2013 and 2014 at McKinley Middle School, attracting hundreds of community members from different walks of life. I was also the Assistant Coach for my husband’s first Tech Challenge for my husband’s team. With exception of me, the team was an all-male, African, and African-American team that went to complete at the state championships in Iowa. I’m extremely proud of each and every one of the young men I worked with over the years.”

LaSheila Yates has quickly become an active advocate for people with pain in her year as a volunteer with U.S. Pain. She bravely shared her pain journey for our Pain Awareness Month Storyathon and is one of 10 individuals profiled in an upcoming issue of the INvisible Project. LaSheila also participated in a chronic pain support group training last month and will be launching a monthly support group in her hometown in December. Her passion to help others and “own” her story has made her a natural in the role of pain advocate. As LaSheila says: “My hope is that by sharing my story, others will find hope for a brighter future.” Thank you for all you do!