More MS news articles for August 2002

The Invisible Disabilities Advocate

14th Aug, 2002
Parker, Colorado

More than 1 in 3 Americans has a chronic condition, and despite what we may assume, 60% of those who live with daily illness or pain are between the ages of 18 and 64. The majority of chronic illness is invisible, including the xx people who currently live with cancer and the millions who suffer the side effects of cancer treatment.

September 23-29, 2002 is National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week. The theme is "But You Look So Good!" It is a major public awareness campaign sponsored by Rest Ministries, an organization that offers support environment for those who live with chronic illness or pain.

"Living with an illness that is invisible to those around us can often have a more devastating affect on our emotional health than the physical pain," explains Lisa Copen, 33, founder of Rest Ministries who lives with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. "Friends and family of those with chronic illness care a great deal about what their loved ones are going through, but oftentimes the invisibility of the illness sets up an environment for misunderstandings and even doubt about the validity of the illness. We hope to increase awareness of how many people 'look great' but are hurting deeply."

Local resident of Parker, Colorado, Sherri Connell (39) lives with Multiple Sclerosis and Chronic-Late Lyme Disease. She says,

I would like to bring your attention to The National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week coming up on September 23-29! I am one of the co-sponsors and the author of But You LOOK Good: A Guide to Understanding and Encouraging People with Chronic, Debilitating Illness and Pain!

I became disabled with Multiple Sclerosis and Chronic Late Lyme Disease in 1991. I have two Business Degrees and a minor in Liberal Arts. I used to sing and dance in musicals, was a model and enjoyed my career as a bookkeeping manager. Unfortunately, just as I was beginning my Masters in Human Resource, I became paralyzed and seriously ill. Since 1991, I have regained some of the use of my legs, but I am still debilitated by unbearable fatigue, pain, dizziness and cognitive dysfunction. Read more about My Story:

Through my experiences and those around me, I have discovered how difficult it is to live with a debilitating illness. Not only have I lost my career, my hopes and my dreams, I have also struggled with the misunderstandings of others. You see, when to those around, you "look good" people have a tough time understanding that you actually "feel horrible." Because of this, my husband and I developed a website called, The Invisible Disabilities Advocate:

The site offers articles, booklets, links, a support board and much more! It is not for profit, as we put money from our own pockets into this site. Read more about What & Who is IDA:

What has been amazing to witness are all of the lives this site has touched! We reach over 4,500 people a month. People who have lost jobs, hobbies, friends and even spouses, due to their illness! Here is what Tammy had to say about the site, "I sit here with tears in my eyes, because I finally found a website that says what I have been trying to say for years!! You have literally saved my life!" ..... Tammy, Ohio

Here is how the booklet helped Sue, "Terrific insights and communicated husband said it finally opened his eyes to what I had been trying to say all these years. Thanks." ..... Sue, New Jersey. Read what other sufferers, Physicians and Authors are saying about IDA:

I am not trying to "toot my own horn!" We are just so excited to get the information out that can help millions of hurting people! Please consider informing your readers about The National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week and The Invisible Disabilities Advocate!

Outreach includes various events: the distribution of literature, When a Friend Has a Chronic Illness: What to Say, How to Help. Resources include But You Look So Good: A Guide to Understanding and Encouraging People With Chronic, Debilitating Illness and Pain. Churches across the U.S. will be participating by having various testimonies shared about living with illness. Bumper stickers and other promotional items are available. Special chat guests will be online and For a complete list of events and resources visit or call 888-751-7378. "The feeling of knowing that one's illness and pain is acknowledged can have a great impact on how a person copes with living with illness," says Copen. "We hope that by recognizing people with illness rarely feel as good as they look, they will begin to feel better understood, leading them to a more invigorating life!"

© 2002, The Invisible Disabilities Advocate