June is National Migraine & Headache Awareness Month (#MHAM). Awareness months and dates are vital to:
- educate our community about headache and migraine disease; and
- fight the stigma associated with headache and migraine disease.
Remembrance Day, which is observed on June 7, is especially meaningful for me. My parents and I lost our daughter and sister, Danielle, after her death by suicide at the age of only 17. Danielle was diagnosed with migraine disease at the age of 8. She began battling chronic migraine at 11 years old.
My Migraine Journey
Although I did not realize it at the time, my migraine journey began when Danielle was first diagnosed. As her disease progressed, more and more of our time together was stolen by migraine attacks that left her incapacitated. Despite this, Danielle was a wonderful sister, friend and teammate. We spent a lot of time together playing tennis, basketball and softball. Danielle was younger than me, but I always thought she was more naturally talented. She agreed. Danielle’s quick wit and dry sense of humor are one the things I miss most, even though it was often at my expense.
Danielle’s death devastated our family and irrevocably changed the trajectory of our lives. Following Danielle’s death, my father changed the focus of his family medicine practice to headache medicine with a special interest in children, adolescents and young adults with migraine and headache diseases. As his practice grew, we realized we needed to do more to change the lives of the children like my sister. Together with my parents, we established Danielle Byron Henry Migraine Foundation in Danielle’s memory and in honor of her struggle to live a normal kid’s life.
I now have a new career devoted to raising awareness and providing support and access to treatment for those living with migraine disease. While any one of us would give up this journey in a second to have Danielle back, our journey as migraine advocates has given us many unexpected gifts including community, inspiration, friendship and a mission much bigger than ourselves.
This June, we as a community can reflect and take pride in what we have accomplished so far. We are changing the perception of headache and migraine disease with every action, big or small. On June 7, please join me by lighting a candle to #ShineALight in memory of Danielle and those we have lost due to migraine, headache and cluster diseases. Danielle’s light will continue to inspire me and my parents in the fight against migraine disease.
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