Whether cancer or arthritis, there are thousands of chronic conditions and health issues that can affect a person during their lifetime. What do all of these conditions have in common? They cause pain.
In honor of Pain Awareness Month, which begins Sept. 1, U.S. Pain Foundation is hosting a number of events and activities that aim to bring together people with pain and create more understanding about the challenges people with pain face. The theme for the 2018 campaign is #PainWarriorsUnite.
Pain Awareness Month is exactly one month away. This year’s theme is #PainWarriorsUnite, and U.S. Pain Foundation has a range of activities, campaigns, and events set up to help unify pain warriors and increase public understanding of the obstacles patients face. Some examples include a daily social media challenge, featuring special giveaways; weekly, free educational events; an op-ed campaign; and the annual Light up the Landmarks initiative.
Op-eds, blogs, articles, and other communications are excellent platforms to create awareness and understanding for the pain community. These write-ups can be used to share individual pain journeys or the experiences of multiple people with pain. Either way, the U.S. Pain Foundation wants your voice to be heard through every possible platform.
“You have the ability to change the negative perceptions held by many people about what it means to live with pain,” says Jacki Drexel, who serves as co-director of the Pain Ambassador Network, alongside Lori Monarca. “We hope you can help U.S. Pain open a positive and productive dialogue that accurately reflects the daily battle fought by pain warriors.”
Chronic pain comes in many shades. The descriptions alone can be colorful: throbbing, shooting, aching, burning, freezing, and so many more. Pain patients rarely describe their pain by using only one of these vivid explanations. Just as there are innumerable ways to describe pain, there are countless conditions that can cause or contribute to chronic pain; each condition is represented by its own awareness ribbon color.
City & State: Petaluma, California
Age: 36 years old
Pain Warrior Role: Volunteer since 2016, ambassador since 2017
Condition: Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
Favorite tip for others with chronic pain: “Stay connected! Living with chronic pain has a profound impact on one’s life and can be completely isolating. It’s imperative to cultivate relationships with others who can relate to the unique experience of living with pain. Connecting online with the chronic pain community, attending face-to face support groups, and volunteer or advocacy work are great ways to link up with others who understand what you’re going through — first hand. Guidance from the chronic pain community can also help provide the support needed to not only live, but also thrive while living with pain. You’re not alone!”
Thanks to U.S. Pain’s dedicated ambassadors and advocates, Pain Awareness Month was a huge success this year. More than 60 bridges, buildings, and landmarks across the country were lit up blue in recognition of pain awareness month as part of the Light Up the Landmarks campaign. An estimated 25 states and 27 cities approved proclamations recognizing September as Pain Awareness Month, submitted by pain warriors across the country. Several ambassadors and advocates came together through fundraisers to raise money and awareness on behalf of people with pain everywhere.
The importance of chronic pain education was put on display this week at the University of Miami’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program, where Alyssa Dickens, sister of Florida ambassador Melanie Dickens, is a student. Alyssa, who calls herself the “biggest advocate for my sister,” felt that her program was missing some much-needed education on chronic pain. So Alyssa invited her sister and U.S. Pain President and Founder Paul Gileno to come speak to students on Sept. 26.
- Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
- Age: 30
- Pain warrior role: U.S. Pain advocate since 2012
- Pain conditions: Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
- Favorite tip for others with chronic pain: “Eat/drink more fruits and vegetables/herbs! Surround yourself with loved ones who encourage and empower you. Hot springs and aqua therapy help minimize pain and depression.”
- Fun fact about you: “I love SCIENCE!”
Humble and reserved, Tim Addo is an individual who rather work behind the scenes. Yet for the past few years, he has been an avid supporter of U.S. Pain Foundation, and a huge contributor to the organization’s Pain Awareness Month campaigns. In 2017, he was instrumental in facilitating the approval of lighting the iconic Vegas sign blue in honor of those living with chronic pain. He also continues to advocate for issues he feels strongly for within the medical community, most notably legalizing medical cannabis. We are thankful for the dedication Tim displays daily to help the pain community, and that is why he is being recognized as Pain Warrior of the Month.
Paul Gileno, president and founder of U.S. Pain, hosted a Facebook Live event in collaboration with The Mighty, a news and information site for those with chronic conditions, on Sept. 29 at 3 pm EST.
In honor of Pain Awareness Month, Gileno discussed the organization’s efforts and the importance of advocacy. He also answered questions from commenters. The video received more than 3,500 views.