The following is a perspective from Michigan ambassador Suzanne Stewart on why she helps out with Pain Awareness Month (PAM) each year. To learn how you can get involved with PAM, visit uspainawarenessmonth.com. Get started soon – many activities, like proclamations and Light up the Landmarks, require several months of advance notice to officials!

Stewart participating in the “Beautify in Blue” awareness campaign

My pain journey increased greatly when I was injured in a car accident in 2002. I wanted to make a difference, and so I started making memes online about complex regional pain syndrome and I started a support group. I have several other high chronic pain illnesses and I was essentially alone in my endeavors. I wasn’t really reaching many people or making many friends.

I saw something about the U.S. Pain Foundation online and I visited their website, where I found information about becoming a U.S. Pain ambassador. They reached out to me and have been so kind and welcoming from the very beginning. I got information and I joined their Ambassador Program. I had always been a “loner,” doing fundraisers and events for only one of my illnesses. After becoming a pain ambassador, I became part of a bigger “family” and started making wonderful lifelong friendships. I’ve started making a difference by advocating for many different chronic pain illnesses. With their help, I’ve spread the word that “people with pain matter.”  I have realized that alone we can do some things, but together we can do so much more.

It’s very easy to become and stay involved with the U.S. Pain Foundation’s Ambassador Program. We are advocating throughout the year, and not only during September; which is Pain Awareness Month. We try to advocate and support as many chronic pain illnesses during the entire year as possible. The U.S. Pain Foundation will walk you through anything that you volunteer to do. They literally give you the steps and hold your hand through anything and everything that you choose to be a part of. You can be involved from your bed or recliner, if that is what you can do. There are projects online and then there are fundraisers and awareness events; all of which are made very easy with everyone helping each other, and all of the U.S. Pain family available and approachable.

The U.S. Pain Foundation makes it very easy to do the important work that we do. They want their ambassadors to succeed. There are events that we are invited to be a part of each year.  During these events, they instruct and show us how to do everything step-by-step. Being a part of the U.S. Pain Foundation family is being a part of something bigger in which we spread awareness and advocate for chronic pain illnesses. But, also, we are a part of one family, who is there for each other and care for one another. While doing all of this we get to care for others, feel cared about, and be a part of something wonderful!

We are grateful to ambassadors like Stewart for their amazing efforts. Without them, PAM would not be possible. For more information about getting involved with PAM, email lori@uspainfoundation.org or jaclyn@uspainfoundation.org. To sign up as an ambassador, click here.