7 posts tagged “illness”

Data donations make wishes come true

Posted September 10th, 2015 by

Back in December 2014, the PatientsLikeMe community donated 450,000 health data points during the 24 Days of Giving campaign, and a special thanks to everyone who participated and have continued to donate their data for good. Every donation made wishes come true for children with life-threatening medical conditions, and on behalf of the community, PatientsLikeMe made a $20,000 donation to Make-A-Wish® Massachusetts and Rhode Island, which helped Keith and Scarlett take a break from aggressive and uncomfortable treatments and doctors’ visits to go on faraway adventures with their families. Read about their stories below:

Keith
When 17-year-old Keith was diagnosed with lymphoma, his life was forever changed. Instead of fishing and playing sports, like he used to before he got sick, he now spends time in hospitals, enduring uncomfortable treatments. Keith longed to take a break from doctor’s visits and have a carefree vacation with his family; he wished to tour the Hawaiian Islands with his family on a Norwegian Cruise.

The PatientsLikeMe community made this happen! Once aboard the cruise ship, the crystal clear waters mesmerized Keith, as they took him to the Hawaiian islands of Kahului, Hilo, Kona, and Nawiliwili. Each new island provided a new world to explore. Keith and his family enjoyed pristine beaches, volcano views, whale watching and deep sea fishing.

Keith’s trip renewed his strength and hope for the future. He told Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island, “if you think about all the people who are emotionally going through so much because of what you’re going through, you become stronger than you can ever imagine. It shows your loved ones that there’s nothing to worry about.”

Thank you for donating your data and helping to give Keith and his family a vacation of a lifetime.

Scarlett
Though diagnosed with a brain tumor, three-year-old Scarlett wished to visit the TradeWinds Island Resort in Florida to explore the sea and the surf like her cartoon friends in her favorite movie, “Finding Nemo.” Scarlett and her family began their trip with a limousine ride to the airport. Upon arriving in sunny Florida, Scarlett tossed off her shoes to wiggle her toes around in the sand. She swam or built sandcastles on every beach – there was plenty for her to discover both in and out of the water. She even got to ride a giant waterslide and tried eating alligator meat at dinner.

Scarlett smiled all week long and her family savored quality time together. She had a week of carefree childhood. Scarlett’s mom and dad really enjoyed reminders of their daughter’s adventurous spirit.

Scarlett’s mom, Michelle, wanted to share with the caregiving community a few tips on coping with a young child who has a serious illness. Here’s what she shared:

When we were going through Scarlett’s treatment, people said to us ‘I don’t think I could do it’ and I always said to them ‘When you have to do something, you find a way.’ What were we going to do? Lay in bed and pull the covers over our heads? I would say:

  1. Don’t be afraid to accept any help that is offered (or ask for help) and don’t think people can read your mind. If someone asked, “What can I do?” I asked for specific things like “come keep us company during infusion weekends in the hospital” or asked for clothes when I was so stressed out that I lost weight and clothes for Scarlett after her surgery when she couldn’t pull a shirt on over her head.
  2. For couples – let one person be the emotional support and the other be the physical support. My husband is a nurse so he took care of making sure she drank plenty of water and ate plenty of fiber. I made sure that we still went to the park and birthday parties and lived life as normally as possible.
  3. My husband’s advice – drink prune juice and lots of water. Believe it or not, we probably saved her kidneys by giving her syringes filled with water all day when she didn’t want to drink. We kept her regular by giving her prune juice every day. Simple but very important.

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Compassion for All: Overcoming the Stigma of Mental Illness

Posted July 27th, 2015 by

From our partners and friends at the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare.

Our partners at Schwartz Center Compassionate Care recently published a paper about how people living with mental illness experience prejudice, and how their doctors can give them better care.

“Overcoming the Stigma of Mental Illness to Ensure Compassionate Care for Patients and Families.”

Read the full paper

-Lisa Halpern, director of recovery services at Vinfen

Over the years, we’ve heard from the PatientsLikeMe community that many living with mental illness experience stigma, so we thought you’d like to know what researchers have to say about how people with mental illness don’t always get the care they need:

“One of the ways people suffering from mental illness are discriminated against in healthcare settings is when patients’ symptoms are over-attributed to their mental illness. The result is that their other health problems can go undiagnosed and untreated.”

Our partnership:
Over the last 20 years, the Schwartz Center focused on providing compassionate care, while over the last 10 years, we’ve brought the patient voice and the patient story to the life sciences community. We’re excited about the alliance, which will help us better understand the patient’s perception of compassionate care. We can strengthen the relationship between patients and their healthcare providers, which leads to better health outcomes, lower costs and greater patient satisfaction.

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Shining a light on lung cancer

Posted November 21st, 2014 by

Back in 1995, a few organizations came together to recognize Lung Cancer Awareness Day – there were a few awareness activities and some scattered fundraisers. Fast forward to now. Almost 20 years later, over 125 different lung cancer events are spread across three continents during the month of November. This is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and the Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA) wants you and everyone you know to help shine a light on this pulmonary condition.

Here is some information you might not know, and can tell others about lung cancer:

  • In 2014, over 220,000 new people will be diagnosed with lung cancer1
  • Lung cancer is the most common cancer among both men and women
  • Lung cancer is the leading cause of death among every ethnic group, and the second leading cause of death in the U.S.2
  • Almost 80% of those diagnosed are former or non-smokers

We got a jump-start here at PatientsLikeMe. Right on November 1st, some on the team joined in the LUNGevity Foundation’s ninth annual Breathe Deep Boston 5K Walk. They’re a new partner of ours, and together, we’ll be collaborating to increase the number of lung cancer members on the site so that more patient-reported information can potentially guide research on the condition. Check out what else our partners at LUNGevity are doing to raise awareness.

How can you help shine your own spotlight on lung cancer this November?

If you’re living with lung cancer, shining a spotlight might mean giving that extra support to someone who’s going through a similar journey. Vickie just shared her story on the blog, and there are more than 1,000 lung cancer members on PatientsLikeMe. Every day, they are giving support and finding answers from others who understand what it’s like to live with lung cancer. Join in.

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1 http://www.cancer.org/cancer/lungcancer-non-smallcell/detailedguide/non-small-cell-lung-cancer-key-statistics

2http://www.lungcanceralliance.org/assets/docs/media/LCA%20Funding%20Fact%20Sheet%202011%20Final.pdf


It’s time to recognize mental illness in October

Posted October 6th, 2014 by

Think about this for a second; according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) 1 in 4 people, or 25% of American adults, will be diagnosed with a mental illness this year. On top of that, 20 percent of American children (1 in 5) will also be diagnosed. And so for 7 days, October 5th to 11th, we’ll be spreading the word for Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW).

What exactly is a mental illness? According to NAMI, A mental illness is a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. [They] are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life.”

There are many types of mental illnesses. The list includes conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar II, depression, schizophrenia and more. MIAW is about recognizing the effects of every condition and learning what it’s like to live day-to-day with a mental illness.

This week, you can get involved by reading and sharing NAMI’s fact sheet on mental illness and using NAMI’s social media badges and images on Facebook, Twitter and other sites. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #MIAW14 if you are sharing your story online. And if you’re living with a mental illness, reach out to the mental health community on PatientsLikeMe – there, you’ll find others who know exactly what you’re going through.

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National Depression Screening Day and National Bipolar Awareness Day

Posted October 10th, 2013 by

Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 11.46.51 AM

As part of Mental Illness Awareness Week, today is both National Depression Screening Day and National Bipolar Awareness Day. It’s all part of a larger effort to raise awareness about the mental conditions that affect the lives of millions of people around the world.

So what are the stats on depression?[1]

  • Depression affects as many as ten percent of all people in the United States, an incredible 30 million people
  • One out of four young adults will experience a depressive episode by age 24
  • 10% to 15% of all depressions are triggered by other medical conditions (such as thyroid disease, cancer or neurologic problems) or by medications

Here are the facts about bipolar disorder:[2]

  • More than 10 million Americans are living with this condition, which is characterized by extreme mood swings and intense emotional states
  • More than half of patients are diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 25
  • Bipolar disorder affects men and women equally

But at PatientsLikeMe, we know that patients aren’t just a statistic, and that facts don’t tell the whole story. Your journey is unique, and this is why more than 15,000 PatientsLikeMe members with depression and more than 4,000 with bipolar disorder are sharing their stories with the greater mental health community and talking about what it’s actually like to live with these two conditions. In the past, you told us what depression feels like, and today, we are raising awareness for depression and bipolar disorder and learning to live better. Click here to sign in and share your experience today.


[1] http://www.mentalhealthscreening.org/info-and-facts/depression.aspx

[2] http://www.nami.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Mental_Illnesses/Bipolar1/Home_-_What_is_Bipolar_Disorder_.htm


Did you know it’s Mental Illness Awareness Week?

Posted October 4th, 2013 by

NAMI awareness

The U.S. Congress has recognized the week of October 6th as Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), and if you or anyone you know is living with a mental health or neurological condition, it’s time to raise awareness and share your experiences.

Serious mental illnesses cover a lot of different conditions (including depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder), and they affect almost five percent of U.S. adults, millions of people.[1] What’s more, the symptoms for each condition described as a mental illness vary greatly. We all have a lot to learn about living with mental illness, and here at PatientsLikeMe, we believe one of the best ways we can live better is through sharing our journeys with one another.

So what else is going on during the week? For starters, MIAW coincides with National Depression Screening Day on October 10th, and you can find out more information about various screenings on the Screening for Mental Health website. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has dozens of other activities planned, and if you are wondering what you can do to help, check out their list of suggestions. You can even share the NAMI’s promotional poster with your friends and family.

The mental health community on PatientsLikeMe loves to chat about everything from general mood updates and photo-blogging to Ryan Gosling, and this week is the perfect time to join the conversation. On PatientsLikeMe, there are over 50,000 members sharing their experiences in the mental health and behavior forums – click here to add your voice to the community today.


[1] http://www.nimh.nih.gov/statistics/pdf/NSDUH-SMI-Adults.pdf


Voices of Fibromyalgia: Q&A with Minnie Lee

Posted December 9th, 2008 by

PatientsLikeMe’s David S. Williams sits down with well-known blogger, triathlete and fibromyalgia patient, Minnie Lee.   Lee, an early member of our new fibromylagia community which launched this week, has a public profile on the site.

***

picture-3.png (David) When were you diagnosed with fibromyalgia and when were your first symptoms?
picture-4.png (Minnie) I was diagnosed in late 2002.  However, my first symptoms started as early as 1998, and then became more prevalent and frequent in late 2000.
picture-3.png (David) How has fibromyalgia changed your life?
picture-4.png (Minnie) On its onset, the changes were negative.   I couldn’t engage in my usual social activities and I was getting sick more often than I was used to.  It was a shock to me, having always been such a healthy person all my life.  I limited myself even further using my “strangely named illness” as a crutch, which led me to be even more dormant.  That was early on.However, in the past 2-3 years, I have to say that fibromyalgia changed my life for the better.  It has given me purpose in life – to improve my own life and help others improve theirs by example of exercise, healthy eating and proper treatments.That said, while I still manage a fairly active and busy lifestyle– from having a full-time job to training for triathlons– I did have to make certain adjustments in my life to make sure I can work within my limitations.  First of all, I had to make the huge adjustment mentally to be ok with admitting that there are just certain things I can’t do.  For a type A person like me, it was one of the most difficult things I had to change (and it took a while).  I limit the number of errands I run in a day, even if I have a much longer list of things to do.  I spread them out over several days – which requires planning some things ahead.  To ensure I get good sleep (in both quality and quantity) to accommodate my training regimen, I make choices every day that make sleep and rest a priority.  If this means limiting my social engagements and having to cancel certain commitments, so be it.  I also had to make a mental shift at work to not get as affected by stressful situations, which has helped me greatly.
picture-3.png (David) What motivates you to train for triathlons and half-marathons?
picture-4.png (Minnie) There are three major factors that motivate me. First and foremost, this was my promise with God – to turn this negative situation around into a positive one.  I made a promise to swim, bike and run to not only help myself but to help others find hope in their every day lives.  Secondly, it is my fellow patients that motivate me to get up and moving.  I know there are people out there whose conditions have gotten so bad that they cannot engage in any kind of exercise.  I can’t imagine the pain and suffering they go through, and I want to dedicate my races to them, while giving hope to others that anything is possible.  I know that these endurance races are a rather extreme measure to promote the benefits of exercise, but I think by doing something extreme I can make a better point about what we’re capable of.  (If I can do a triathlon/half-marathon, you can definitely go for a walk and see how you feel!)  Lastly, my motivation is my own past.  Four to five years ago I was drowning in self-pity, dependent on muscle relaxants and pain killers, spending a lot of my leisure time in bed, and was frequently missing work enough to make me feel concerned about keeping my job.  They were some of the darkest days of my life.  Now, all I have to do is remember those days to get myself moving on a tough day.
picture-3.png (David) How do you see PatientsLikeMe helping the fibromyalgia community?
picture-4.png (Minnie) Launching a community site for fibromyalgia on PatientsLikeMe has significant meaning.  First of all, it adds to the recent recognition the illness has been gaining in the medical community.  It is time for any discussion of this illness being real or not to be over and done with.  Secondly, and more importantly, it has massive potential of being a crucial resource for patients that lack information and options about their conditions, by having every possible symptom and treatments laid out in one central source.  Additionally, patients can and will find friends that understand what they go through (and we don’t have many of those, because fibromyalgia is still a foreign language to many people).  Another amazing possibility is that this can be a great source for doctors, because knowledge and understanding of fibromyalgia among doctors can always be improved.  This can be the perfect linkage between patients, their support system and health care professionals.  I can’t help but be so enthused and excited about this endeavor PatientsLikeMe has set forth.  They are bringing such a helpful platform of information and communication to the fibromyalgia community.  Thanks!!!!