How do you spread awareness?

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Migraine and Headache Awareness Month has been a busy time for me! It seemed a good sign when my appointment with my new migraine specialist was scheduled for June 1, the first day of awareness month. It was, indeed, a good omen and I'm looking forward to creating a doctor-patient partnership with this knowledgeable, kind, and witty doctor.

Some days this month, my awareness came in the form of excruciating migraines. I felt so very, very aware. Some days, I was able to create graphics such as the one embedded in this post to share on social media. I've been trying hard to participate in the American Headache and Migraine Association's daily blogging challenge to raise awareness as well. The theme this year has been "HOPE": where you find it, how you cultivate it, and what to do when you've lost it. I was also lucky to have some of my writing featured in the American Migraine Foundation's #BlogADay series, along with five other incredibly talented bloggers. The majority of my advocacy work has been done online this month.

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In my day-to-day life, I've worn as much purple as possible, including my awareness bracelets. This has been an excellent conversation starter and has led to informed discussions about migraine and other headache disorders with people who might not otherwise have been educated on the topic. My boyfriend, as well as family members, and my primary care physician have all donned purple Migraine Awareness bands for the month, showing their solidarity and support of my struggle.

One of the most exciting parts of this particular Migraine and Headache Awareness Month was getting to go to Washington D.C. for the American Headache and Migraine Association's annual patient conference. While there, I got the chance to network with other patients, hear presentations from top-notch migraine/headache specialists, and to learn about new research and treatments in the field of migraine and headache disorders. It was an incredible experience and I am already eager to attend next year's conference!

Though I'll be doing a bit more blogging before the month is over, one of my most exciting opportunities for this month is yet to come. My primary care physician has invited me to do a lunchtime lecture series on Migraine and Headache Awareness, including presenting on the topics I learned about the AHMA Conference. To be given the opportunity to speak to a roomful of medical professionals sounds like a daunting task, but it is one that I take very seriously. I aim to speak for the millions of people with migraines who don't have this type of opportunity. I aim to educate doctors and nurses on a topic that they sometimes have very little knowledge/training about. I aim to show the medical community that we are more than just patients, but also educators, advocates, researchers, and fundraisers. The staff has been invited to wear purple and any money raised will benefit the American Headache and Migraine Association. It is the perfect way to end Migraine and Headache Awareness Month.

However, even as June comes to a close and awareness month technically ends, I will continue raising awareness year-round for the rest of my days. One month is not enough. We must continue supporting each other, educating those outside the migraine community, and raising awareness in any way we can. As the James Thurber quote goes, "Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness."

Michelle L. Tracy
U.S. Pain Foundation Ambassador

www.migrainewarriorblog.wordpress.com
Twitter: @CheDeco