Why Advocacy Is an Essential Part of My Chronic Pain Treatment Tool Kit

Advocacy is an essential part of my chronic pain treatment tool kit. It’s as effective as managing my diet, daily exercise, meditation and mindfulness, taking supplements, and healthy sleep habits. It is more powerful than any of the preventative prescription treatments I’ve tried (and I’ve tried many). That’s why I’m so happy that at this year’s Headache on the Hill (HOH) I got a big, wonderful dose of Advocacy.

headache on the hill logo
Headache on the Hill is an annual lobbying event in Washington DC, organized by the Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy (AHDA).

Advocacy isn’t able to make my pain disappear, but it is extremely powerful because it gives me:

Hope. From the moment I applied to HOH, I began to anticipate a trip to Washington D.C. HOH also gives me hope for the future. It is encouraging to know a group of patients, doctors and researchers are working to convince Congress to support chronic pain research and treatments.

Purpose. I was able to link my life to a cause bigger than myself. This year at HOH we had meetings at 201 Congressional offices to ask for co-sponsorship of the Opioids and STOP Pain Initiative Act of 2017 (S.2260, H.R.4733), which will allocate funding to: understand pain, discover and develop non-addictive pain therapies (pharmacological or non-pharmacological) and discover and develop medication-assisted and opioid overdose reversal treatments.

2018 Headache on the Hill participants in front of the U.S. Capitol.
2018 Headache on the Hill participants in front of the U.S. Capitol.

Empowerment. HOH helps me transform my view of myself as a victim into the image of a warrior fighting for the care I deserve.

Community. 148 advocates from 39 different states gathered for HOH 2018. Chronic pain can be so isolating. It was wonderful to be reminded I’m part of a large, intelligent and powerful team.

Value. Advocacy let’s me know others care about me, they empathize with my suffering and frustration, and they are willing to fight with me. In the last few weeks, my friends and family have sent letters to their senators and representatives supporting the bill I went to Washington D. C. to get co-sponsored and passed. The legislative aides, with whom I met during HOH, showed concern for our plight and expressed their willingness to help us. They conveyed that my life, and the lives of others in pain, has worth.

Me and my HOH advocacy team in front of one of the six Congressional offices I visited.
Me and my HOH advocacy team in front of one of the six Congressional offices I visited.

Want a two minute dose of advocacy? Send a letter supporting the Opioids and STOP Pain Initiative Act of 2017 to your Members of Congress using this link.

Angelica Heidi Brehm with Dr. Rapoport, Katie Golden, Dr. Cowan, and Ellie Donner-Klein in front of the U.S. Capitol.

Editor’s note: This story reflects an individual’s experience and is not an endorsement from The Mighty. We believe in sharing a variety of perspectives from our community.

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