Photo credit: Ashley Hattle-Cleminshaw.

From April 12 to 14, more than 200 people from around the world gathered in San Antonio, TX, for the first-ever RetreatMigraine conference. Produced by CHAMP (the Coalition for Headache And Migraine Patients) the three-day educational event aimed to connect those with migraine disease with information, resources, and most importantly, each other.

A member organization of CHAMP, U.S. Pain Foundation sponsored a dinner and launch party for its latest issue of the INvisible Project. The magazine–the third edition focusing on headache diseases–includes profiles of 10 inspiring individuals who are living with migraine, headache, and cluster diseases. The launch party featured large displays with photos, story summaries, and quotes from each person profiled.

U.S. Pain also spearheaded a unique program for conference attendees: the “Personal Story” workshops, which taught participants how to communicate the story of their own personal journey in a compelling, effective way. Led by Beth Turner, a professional therapeutic writing facilitator, the workshops explored storytelling as both a route to healing and an opportunity for advocacy, and gave attendees an opportunity to get their stories down on paper.

INvisible Project staff, including INvisible Project Director and U.S. Pain Interim CEO Nicole Hemmenway, were on-hand to help with the writing and editing. Participants were given the opportunity to have their stories professionally laid out in a hard copy they could take home with them. INvisible Project staff are now working to compile the stories into a special print publication, which will be mailed out to all who shared their journeys.

“We were proud to be part of such a wonderful event for people with headache and migraine diseases,” says Hemmenway. “We hope attendees left feeling like they have more tools in their toolbox for managing their pain–and that they feel empowered to advocate for more respect, empathy, and access to treatment for these devastating diseases.”

Aside from its programming contributions, U.S. Pain sponsored the distribution of 150 triage kits, which included eye masks, peppermint, and other helpful tools for treating migraine and headache attacks. The kits were developed and prepared in collaboration with Chronic Migraine Awareness, Inc.

By the end of the weekend, friendships had been formed and resources discovered. Some attendees were so moved by their experience that they chose to get tattoos of the retreat’s logo, which features the outlines of people holding hands. Attendees left RetreatMigraine knowing more about how to best manage their migraine disease and how to call on society to give them the support they deserve. Most importantly, they made connections with other people going through the same thing and felt a little less alone.

To learn more about RetreatMigraine, click here.

U.S. Pain Foundation thanks Amgen and Novartis for supporting the storytelling workshops and the triage kits.

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