“Each One Can Reach One” is the theme for this year’s National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week, September 13-19, 2010.
The annual event, which began in 2002, is the brainchild of Lisa Copen, founder of Rest Ministries. “Most people are not looking for large support groups or 100 percent understanding when it comes to living with a chronic illness. People in pain often times just want ONE person who really ‘gets it.’ And that one person can make a world of difference.”
Living with a chronic condition like rheumatoid arthritis, back pain, migraines, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and a myriad of other conditions can make the world a lonely place.
Chronic illness, invisible or not, does not happen in a vacuum. It affects a person’s outlook on life, marriages, family relationships, friends, and co-workers. It spreads its tentacles beyond health care into finances, employment, social life, and long-term planning.
Each One Can Reach One
When thinking about Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week and why it is important, I recalled an incident from several years ago that put it in perspective.
I was feeling particularly healthy during a welcome remission from relapsing/remitting multiple sclerosis, and the party was in full swing. MS was not on my mind as I mingled and sipped a glass of wine. My mood was upbeat because I did not need a cane to walk and could manage the wine and the buffet-style meal with no assistance.
There is a woman I see socially only a few times a year, and it just so happens that she has a very serious auto-immune disease that is, for the most part, invisible. We are kindred spirits of sorts. When she entered the room I energetically approached her to trade pleasantries. When she asked how I was doing, I replied that I was doing very well. “Just look at me!” I beamed with a partial twirl.
She stared me straight in the eye and said, “You do look good, but I know better than that. Who do you think you’re talking to? How are you really?”
Instantly, I felt a lump rise in my throat and my eyes began to mist. As it happened, I truly was doing great, but that’s not the point. She understood. She knew that when it comes to chronic illness, what you see is not necessarily all there is.
That spark of recognition… that knowing look… that understanding statement that said so much was a real-life “Each One Can Reach One” moment.
Next: Blogging for Invisible Illness Week & The Anonymous Sticky Note Project