Nearly 1 in 2 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 millions of people who currently live with cancer and the millions who suffer the side effects of cancer treatment.
Sand Diego, CA (PRWEB) June 23, 2005 — September 12-18, 2005 is National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week. The theme is “Choose to Thrive, Not Just Survive!” It is a major public awareness campaign sponsored by Rest Ministries, an organization that offers a supportive 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, 36, founder of Rest Ministries who lives with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. “Each day we must choose to thrive, to do something out of the ordinary, or make a new friend. It’s easy to get in the habit of living a life of survival.”
Copen is the author of a new book, Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend. “Part of our campaign is to encourage people to ‘care enough to be informed,” says Copen. “Just because someone isn’t using a wheelchair doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have a disability. 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.”
Outreach includes various events: the distribution of free literature such as a brochure, When a Friend Has a Chronic Illness: What to Say, How to Help. Other resources include But You Look So Good: A Guide to Understanding and Encouraging People With Chronic, Debilitating Illness and Pain. Churches and organizations across the U.S. will be participating by in having people share their stories. T-shirt, bumper stickers and other promotional items are available. Special chat guests will be online. For a complete list of events and resources visit www.invisibleillness.com 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!”
Interesting fact: HopeKeepers Magazine is published by the sponsor of Rest Ministries. It’s the only Christian consumer magazine specifically written for people in chronic pain.
Book info: Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend; Author: Lisa Copen; dimensions: 4.25 x 7 in.; 94 pages; Rest Ministries Publishers 2005; ISBN 0-9716600-6-9.
*(Chronic Care in America: A 21st Century Challenge, a study of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.).