The American Headache Society - Thankful Despite Migraine
Since Cyndi and I recently returned from an American Headache Society conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, which we attended to learn more about migraine and other headache disorders, this seems a good day to express my gratitude for the American Headache Society (AHS) and the AHS doctors who are so dedicated to helping us. When I attended my first AHS conference in 2004, I knew very few of the other people attending, and I went there by myself. Although I had exchanged emails with a few of the doctors and had chatted with a couple on the telephone, I'd only met a few of them in before in person - Dr. William B. Young (who was my migraine specialist at the time) and Dr. Steven Silberstein, both of the Jefferson Headache Center, and Dr. Elizabeth Loder, whom I had met at a pain conference a few months previously.
Truthfully, I was more than a bit nervous when I arrived, especially since I was the only patient there. It wasn't just that I was nervous about the people attending the conference. I was also concerned that every session would zip right over my head, making no sense at all. By the second day of the conference, my worries had pretty much disappeared. Dr. Young kindly introduced me to many people as did Dr. Loder. I quickly met Dr. Fred Sheftell, whom I felt as if I already knew. We'd talked by email and telephone, and he'd written the forward for my book, Living Well with Migraine Disease and Headaches, which was scheduled to come out a few months later. As for understanding the sessions, I quickly found that many of the doctors there, including many of the presenters, were happy to sit down with me and explain what I didn't understand. And, as Dr. Young had predicted, I understood more that I had thought I would.
Over the 10 years since that first conference, I've come to consider many of these fine doctors to be colleagues, and some of them have become friends as well. A few years ago, when my mother passed away while I was in Los Angeles for an AHS conference, these wonderful people rallied around me, reminding me that they consider me part of the AHS family, and offering to help in any way they could. Thanks to them, the situation and the next couple of days were far easier for me than they could have been under other circumstances.
You should know that many of these doctors and researchers are also strong advocates for all of us and for better treatments for us. Once a year, many of them attend the Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy's annual "Headache on the Hill" event. I tell you this because I want you to know how much they truly care. My knowing these brilliant and dedicated people is why you so often see me say that there really are good doctor out there who care, doctors who won't give up on us.
When a few of us got together to try to form a new nonprofit migraine and headache disorders organization that's patient-focused and patient-driven, we could see no way to do it - UNTIL I approached the AHS to see if they would be willing to help us. They were, and the American Headache and Migraine Association was born.
Then there's the American Migraine Foundation (AMF), another branch of the AHS. Here's their mission statement:
"The American Migraine Foundation is a non-profit foundation supported by the American Headache Society® and generous donors dedicated to the advancement of migraine research. The mission of the American Migraine Foundation is to support innovative research and education that will lead to improvement in the lives of those who suffer from migraine and other disabling headaches."
The AMF, chaired by Dr. David Dodick, has initiated the 36 Million Migraine Campaign:
"You may be one of 36 million Americans with migraine. If all of us donated just one dollar - for ourselves or for someone we know or love who has migraine - we can raise $36 million. So little can and will do so much! That's more than twice as much as the federal government allocates for migraine research each year!"
So, in addition to lobbying Congress during the annual Headache on the Hill Event, AHS members working with the AMF are actively raising research funding themselves through the 36 Million Migraine Campaign. Another wonderful thing about this initiative is that we can all participate! We don't have to be able to make large donations. Truly, every dollar counts and adds up to research. We can all donate to the 36 Million Migraine Campaign.
There's so much more I could share with you. There are also so many members of the AHS and their staff whom I could list, but I know I'd miss some of the people who so richly deserve thanks. So, today, I am grateful for the American Headache Society, their many dedicated members, and their wonderful staff members. Thank you all!
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© Teri Robert, 2014, • Last updated November 30, 2014.