Hope and Help

Institute Brings Hope and Help to Fibromyalgia Sufferers

On May 12, 2007, the Capital Region-based International Institute For Human Empowerment, Inc. sponsored the First Annual Fibromyalgia Conference featuring a variety of speakers representing a wide spectrum of treatment modalities, to address many issues affecting the quality of life of Fibromyalgia patients, their healthcare providers, and family and friends.

The Price Chopper Community Room in Schenectady hosted the approximately 100 attendees for the First Annual Fibromyalgia Conference on Saturday May 12. Enthusiasm ran high as speaker after speaker shared strategies for dealing with pain and fatigue, as well as the trauma of financial stress due to disability, often the result of this mysterious illness.

Sue Kidd Shipe, Executive Director of the International Institute For Human Empowerment, Inc., and also diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, said that this conference is about Empowerment. “It is not about whining and ‘poor me’. We are about facing this huge challenge with courage, strength, dignity, and beauty, and leaving this world a little better than we found it by completing our spiritual purpose, and contributing to a better world for our children and grandchildren.”

“This is the first conference on Fibromyalgia ever done in this area!” was a comment frequently heard by presenters who were eager to support the conference by donating time on a beautiful Saturday in May. The Keynote Speaker was Dr. Jonathan Cooper, Chief of Physical Medicine at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany, and Medical Advisor for the Fibromyalgia Support Group for 20 years. Featured at the registration table, and known by physicians and therapists throughout the Capital Region, was Agnes Welch, who founded the Fibromyalgia Support Group 25 years ago when little was known in this country about this illness.

Other speakers for the day were Dorota Hausner-Sypek, M.D., Rheumatologist; Elizabeth Heywood, Ph.D., Pool Therapist; Michael Bernhardt, DCM, Chiropractor; P.W. Kong, M.D., Acupuncturist; John Murphy and Marianna Vaysman, Physical Therapists; Jessica Barcomb and Wendell Harris, Licensed Massage Therapists; Patricia Fennell, Psychologist; Ira Mendleson, Social Security Disability Attorney; and Jean Wood, Author.

The International Institute For Human Empowerment, Inc. also gathered information from participants about how the illness is affecting their lives. The results of this Action Research will be used to further inform the public about the impact of this potentially disabling illness in the hope of contributing to improved services for patients, and expanded research leading to a cure.

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