Lady Gaga’s Netflix documentary Gaga: Five Foot Two didn’t only showcase her immense talent and passion for music. It also revealed a chronic illness she’s been battling for years: fibromyalgia.
Racked in pain, as if her entire body was on fire, Gaga and her team tried to nurse her back to help with medications and therapies. Clearly, the world-famous singer has found herself bedridden many times a year because of what she’s suffering.
But she’s not alone. About 60% of the country’s population suffers from a chronic illness, according to the CDC. Over 35%, meanwhile, has two or more conditions.
What does it feel like to have a chronic condition? How can advocacy groups and patient advocacy foundation sponsorships help them cope?
The Challenges, Seen and Unseen
Chronic diseases, which are conditions whose symptoms last for at least a year and/or require regular healthcare assistance, affect individuals differently. They may limit a person’s activity or impact their quality of life negatively. In some cases, they need to make only minor changes in their lifestyle.
Yet they also share plenty of similarities:
1. Countless Doctors’ Visits and Misdiagnoses
In 2019, Johns Hopkins Medicine revealed that misdiagnosis leaves at least 100,000 Americans permanently disabled or dead each year. For people with chronic conditions, they often find themselves getting different diagnoses for months, sometimes decades.
One of the probable reasons is the manifestation of symptoms. Sometimes the signs and symptoms are vague doctors cannot immediately pinpoint the actual cause. In many situations, test results are normal or negative for any disease.
Also, some healthcare providers may not consider other forms of illnesses due to the patient’s age or genetics.
Either way, the countless doctors’ visits and the lack of knowledge can cause significant physical, emotional, and financial trauma.
2. Depression and Anxiety
Depression is both a symptom and complication of a chronic illness. According to statistics, people with this condition are 25% to 33% more likely to develop depression. The odds only increase for those already prone or diagnosed with this mental health issue. The general population’s average risk is 5% to 12% for men and 10% to 25% for women.
Many patients go through it for the following reasons:
- They can no longer perform the activities they used to enjoy.
- They need to make big sudden changes in their lives.
- Their illness may prevent them from taking care of themselves properly. For example, it may keep them up at night or limit their exercise.
- They may isolate themselves, or the condition may prevent them from socializing.
3. Unseen Symptoms
Not everyone will believe a person with a chronic condition because not all symptoms are physical. Many also suffer from unseen ones such as pain, depression, anxiety, anger, and fatigue.
The Importance of Advocacy Support
Advocacy groups can help people with chronic conditions manage their health issues more effectively:
- They can generate funding for research or even financing.
- They can offer tips on how they can cope and manage their condition, especially symptoms.
- They usually have a wide network, which could help patients get quality care.
- They offer social and emotional support. Some even have hotlines or communities with regular activities.
- They can help lobby federal and local policies that further provide for the needs of people with chronic illness.
However, these groups also need support, which is where sponsorship comes in. Fortunately, some organizations are willing partners for fund-raising and membership engagement.
The world has made a lot of advances in managing chronic diseases, but the challenges remain. Worse, they can be isolating. People with these conditions need help more than ever to thrive, which advocacy groups can provide. But for these communities to achieve their goals, support from sponsors is ideal.