National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week, Sept. 8-14, is a secular event sponsored by Rest Ministries, the largest Christian organization that serves the chronically ill. Activities for the week will take place on the event’s web site, http://www.invisibleillnessconference.com/. Registration information can be found on the site.
The focal point of the week will be 20 online seminars, from Monday through Friday, which will cover a variety of subjects. The seminars are open to anyone, including those who have loved-ones with chronic illness.
Seminars topics include:
Assess Yourself: Find the Job You Desire and Can Do Despite Illness Limitations
The Civil Rights of Patients with Invisible Chronic Illnesses
Overcoming Self-Defeating Behaviors
How to Get Paid to Blog
After the Diagnosis: The Journey Beyond
The theme this year is “Hope Can Grow From The Soil of Illness.”
According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the health and health care of all Americans, nearly 1 in 2 people in the United States live with a chronic illness.
So why is it that most of us don’t even know when a friend or co-worker is dealing with diabetes, heart disease, lupus or chronic fatigue syndrome? Because, according to the U.S. Census, about 96% of these people have invisible illnesses.
Lisa Copen, 39, began National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week in 2002 as she continuously witnessed hundreds of people emotionally hurting just because they felt as though no one “got it.” Lisa has lived with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia for fifteen years and understands how validating it can be to just have one friend who you don’t have to explain everything to.
“Though there are hundreds of illnesses represented, and large differences in symptoms and pain levels, none of that matters more than feeling like someone understands you. When our best friends and family members are skeptical about our disease, it can be that last straw that sets us off into a spiraling depression.”
She says, “We plan to unite the millions of people who live with chronic pain and illness by offering an oasis of hope and understanding, as well as (provide) helpful information and practical tools to live the best life possible.”
In addition to the seminars, guests will be able to access daily guest bloggers, dozens of articles, ideas to get involved in the outreach, and goodies to help promote awareness, from silicone bracelets to brochures. If you’re tired of those looks when you park in a handicapped spot, be sure to pick up a license plate or bumper sticker.