Congratulations to the Winning Submissions!
Thank you to everyone that participated in the Faces of Pain contest. We received many moving and inspirational stories from across Canada.
We are pleased to announce the Faces of Pain winning submissions from five different categories - British Columbia, the Prairies, Ontario, Atlantic Canada and a youth category. Each regional submission winner received a $250 cash prize from the Canadian Pain Coalition.
Please see below for the winning stories - congratulations to all our contest winners and thank you again to all participants. We truly appreciate your participation in this inaugural contest.
Katie Robertson, British Columbia
My name is Katie Robertson and I am 18 years old. When I was 13 I began my struggle with chronic pain. Since then my life has gone down a path I never imagined it would. Through the ups and downs, the heartaches and discouragements I've learned a lesson of the up-most value; compassion
>Being in pain constantly, as hard as it can be, has not only taught me far more empathy and compassion than I could have ever imagined it has also allowed me to feel the kindness and compassion of others. So many people that I never would have met otherwise, or connected with, have become my strongest and most important supports. We're connected by things stronger than just mere friendship, we're linked by resilience, perseverance, and a constant reminder of the things that matter the most and that no matter what life throws at you, you can always overcome it. Things don't always go how we planned or expected, and it's okay to be disappointed and to struggle with it, but through the bad can come so much good and so many opportunities that we could have never imagined.
Yes, my life has changed almost entirely since the pain started, but it hasn't ended. I still have so much to accomplish and to look forward to and I know that if I keep my head up that nothing can stop me from reaching my goals. And, if I need that shoulder to lean on I know it's always there
Tanya Stewart, Alberta
My story is about how a dear friend helped me find recognize my own strength!!
Having experienced migraines since I was very young, I have had oodles of "cures" and " remedies" shared with me via friends, family members and even strangers. Anyone reading this who suffers from chronic pain probably relates to getting these "gifts" from well-meaning folks. Maybe it's just me...but when I get these often "simple" suggestions the message I ACTUALLY HEAR is this...."You are not doing enough to get better. You COULD be well, but must not want to be."
My friend Sharon took the time out of her day to call me after she herself experienced her very first migraine. "Honey... I owe you an apology!!!! Forget everything I have EVER TOLD YOU about trying to get through that pain when you have a migraine!! I had NO IDEA how horrific that pain is. It is the worst thing I've felt in my > 65 years on earth!" What I know about my friend, is that she herself has endured great physical pain, including being shot by a bullet in the back.
Sharon's words were a gift to me....She so simply, yet powerfully shared that she HEARD how hard it is to LIVE with this pain. When she "heard" this, and told me so.... I HAD to acknowledge the STRENGTH OF CHARACTER I have: to endure this pain...day after day...year after year. That inner strength, that perseverance may have always been there, but I could not have embraced it and drawn from it if she hadn't taken those few minutes to pick up the phone to pass along her message to me. For that; for her, I AM GRATEFUL. I AM INSPIRED
Lynette Edelenbos, Ontario
Chronic pain took 14 years of my life, everything was stolen. My young children lost their mom to a bed. Chronic pain destroys everything and anyone in its path. Adapting to the changes may be difficult for everyone involved, our losses gone forever. Anger, fear, hopelessness, loss of control, constant pain wears you down. I tried every day to get back up only to be knocked down.
Then I realized after much loss, sadness, frustration that I can't control pain but I can control how I react to it. I can choose to rebuild my life. I can find myself, this hollow shell can be revived. I can live again. Where do I start? With baby steps. Rebuilding my self esteem. It took a long time to realize I need to do something that gives me purpose/joy, to feel like I matter. I deserve a life and so do you. I'm going to triumph over cp. Use my knowledge/life experiences to teach and help others. I can take control again. Stop beating myself up for I've heard it from family/doctors that you do nothing, just work, get out of bed etc.
I've been blessed by my team of doctors who understood what pain has done to my life, they sympathize, don't criticize, listen, don't make me feel like a failure. I've left many doctors appointments beat up/put down but I leave them feeling supported. Doctors dealing with cp need to understand it's effects. I hope all healthcare professionals learn from these doctors: uplift, support, listen, don't criticize, comfort, humanize us. You deserve a doctor like this, you don't have to be put down by those who are supposed to help you. Find a doctor like this. I thank them for their tireless efforts to heal/support me. My heroes.
Linda Wilhelm, New Brunswick
Living with the pain of Rheumatoid Arthritis for over 25 years has been a constant, daily challenge. Having to plan my days to make sure I can accomplish what has to get done leaves very little energy left for the "fun" activities in life. I try to walk 3 km at least 3 times a week and that, together with multiple medications helps me to manage my pain. I am very fortunate, in that I have a very supportive spouse. My family doctor is one of the rare ones who has an understanding of chronic pain and he works closely with me to ensure that it is controlled as best as it can be. I also find that volunteering to help others manage their conditions helps me to stay on track with managing mine. I am a chronic disease self-management program facilitator and the classes provide numerous and varied techniques for pain management, a refresher for me every time I deliver a course. My life has had its ups and downs but despite daily pain I lead an active, happy and fulfilling life and my hope is that everyone who lives with chronic pain can someday access the treatment and support they need to do the same.
Sophie W., New Brunswick
When I was 4 years old I was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis. It started in my knees and I have to have injections done, I was put to sleep for them. I had to take some medicine every day. Then my arthritis spread to some more joints like my wrists and fingers and ankles, and I had to take a weekly medicine too.
That did not help so I had to start having a needle at home once a week and had to go for more needles once a month to test my blood, I have good days and bad days but I don't let my arthritis pain get me down, I go to sparks and I love to swim.
I have a dog who I play with and take for walks, she cuddles with me when I don't feel well and I am unable to go to school due to stiff painful joints. I will not let arthritis stop me from doing the things I love to do.