Posts belonging to Category 'Support'

Showing Thanks to EB Lifelines

EB families endure a level of daily stress higher than most parents may ever have to undergo. To witness our children facing the pain, discomfort and uncertainty of epidermolysis bullosa is frightening. Out of necessity and sheer self-preservation, many of us assemble an informal support network, and these ‘EB Lifelines’ can be invaluable, not only in helping us manage the day-to-day care needs EB demands but for moral support and stress management.

 

November is a month characterized by the spirit of thankfulness, so when was the last time you showed these invaluable cheerleaders how much their support, friendship and care has meant to you and your family? We suggest taking the time this month to reach out and recognize those auxiliary caregivers in the family as well as friends and neighbors who help pitch in when the family is in need.

 

Maybe take a few moments to make an inexpensive but personalized, homemade card or crafted gift, or instead pick up a gift card to one of their favorite restaurants or stores as a gesture to say simply ‘thank you for being there for us.’ Does your lifeline like flowers or garden as a hobby? Even a flower delivery or purchase of a plant for them to add to their own garden can be a sweet way of saying thanks that will be welcomed warmly. As EB moms and dads, we know that a gift card, flowers or handmade craft cannot possibly convey the magnitude of the gratitude we feel for all they do but it will feel nurturing to the soul to express our sincere appreciation for their support in the various ways they look out for us. Being on the receiving end will certainly remind them of the important place they hold in our life.

 

The family and friend circles that surround us during the holidays and other joyous occasions are special, but it is their presence during our greatest times of need which comfort us most. When a family faces a life-threatening disease like EB, those connections become so important to the livelihood and spirit of the family. Use this time of gratitude and appreciation for what you have and let those important lifelines know just how critical they are to your family.

 

EB and the Rare Disease Community

Every year, people around the world participate in Rare Disease Day. Taking place on the last day of February, this declared international event was established to raise awareness among the general public of the prevalence of a group of diseases classified as “rare diseases.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rare diseases may be classified differently from country to country but in the U.S., a rare disease is any disease impacting fewer than 200,000 Americans at any given time, according to the Rare Disease organization website. (In Europe, that classification is used when it affects fewer than 1 in 2,000.) Epidermolysis bullosa is among the list of rare diseases recognized as part of this global day.

 

Rare Disease Day also is an excellent opportunity for the rare disease community to remind health professionals and researchers, as well as public servants and other decision makers about this community’s needs. With greater media exposure featuring events and campaigns being coordinated, those holding economic and legislative power are introduced to the rare disease community’s daily challenges from lack of research funding and treatment support to a need for better education across the general medical community about rare diseases.

 

Hundreds of patient organizations take part in local and national campaigns as part of Rare Disease Day, launched back in 2008 by EURORDIS. What started as only a European event quickly expanded into a global partnership when the U.S. began participating the next year and has since drawn the attention of over 80 countries world-wide and recognizes over 6,000 rare diseases covering a broad spectrum of disorders and symptoms. Every year, Rare Disease Day has a theme. For 2017 that theme is Research and its slogan: with research, possibilities are limitless.

 

What can you do in your own community to raise awareness for EB and other rare diseases this February 28? Events across the globe will be listed on the Rare Disease Day website. Should you decide to hold one in your community, be sure to share your event details so it can be added. For more information about this global event recognizing rare diseases, visit rarediseaseday.org.

EB and the Rare Disease Community

Every year, people around the world participate in Rare Disease Day. Taking place on the last day of February, this declared international event was established to raise awareness among the general public of the prevalence of a group of diseases classified as “rare diseases.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rare diseases may be classified differently from country to country but in the U.S., a rare disease is any disease impacting fewer than 200,000 Americans at any given time, according to the Rare Disease organization website. (In Europe, that classification is used when it affects fewer than 1 in 2,000.) Epidermolysis bullosa is among the list of rare diseases recognized as part of this global day.

 

Rare Disease Day also is an excellent opportunity for the rare disease community to remind health professionals and researchers, as well as public servants and other decision makers about this community’s needs. With greater media exposure featuring events and campaigns being coordinated, those holding economic and legislative power are introduced to the rare disease community’s daily challenges from lack of research funding and treatment support to a need for better education across the general medical community about rare diseases.

 

Hundreds of patient organizations take part in local and national campaigns as part of Rare Disease Day, launched back in 2008 by EURORDIS. What started as only a European event quickly expanded into a global partnership when the U.S. began participating the next year and has since drawn the attention of over 80 countries world-wide and recognizes over 6,000 rare diseases covering a broad spectrum of disorders and symptoms. Every year, Rare Disease Day has a theme. For 2017 that theme is Research and its slogan: with research, possibilities are limitless.

 

What can you do in your own community to raise awareness for EB and other rare diseases this February 28? Events across the globe will be listed on the Rare Disease Day website. Should you decide to hold one in your community, be sure to share your event details so it can be added. For more information about this global event recognizing rare diseases, visit rarediseaseday.org.

EB and the Rare Disease Community

Every year, people around the world participate in Rare Disease Day. Taking place on the last day of February, this declared international event was established to raise awareness among the general public of the prevalence of a group of diseases classified as “rare diseases.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rare diseases may be classified differently from country to country but in the U.S., a rare disease is any disease impacting fewer than 200,000 Americans at any given time, according to the Rare Disease organization website. (In Europe, that classification is used when it affects fewer than 1 in 2,000.) Epidermolysis bullosa is among the list of rare diseases recognized as part of this global day.

 

Rare Disease Day also is an excellent opportunity for the rare disease community to remind health professionals and researchers, as well as public servants and other decision makers about this community’s needs. With greater media exposure featuring events and campaigns being coordinated, those holding economic and legislative power are introduced to the rare disease community’s daily challenges from lack of research funding and treatment support to a need for better education across the general medical community about rare diseases.

 

Hundreds of patient organizations take part in local and national campaigns as part of Rare Disease Day, launched back in 2008 by EURORDIS. What started as only a European event quickly expanded into a global partnership when the U.S. began participating the next year and has since drawn the attention of over 80 countries world-wide and recognizes over 6,000 rare diseases covering a broad spectrum of disorders and symptoms. Every year, Rare Disease Day has a theme. For 2017 that theme is Research and its slogan: with research, possibilities are limitless.

 

What can you do in your own community to raise awareness for EB and other rare diseases this February 28? Events across the globe will be listed on the Rare Disease Day website. Should you decide to hold one in your community, be sure to share your event details so it can be added. For more information about this global event recognizing rare diseases, visit rarediseaseday.org.

Social Media and Support

It has been amazing to see the online EB community grow as much as it has over the past 5+ years. I have watched social media evolve into a means through which we can educate and raise awareness, a feed to interact and communicate and a bridge to minimize distance and connect people. Though EB is still considered a rare disease, our ability to link to one another quickly and on a timely basis about the subject makes the world feel a little less vast. 
 
 
 
 
It was just over six years ago that we first launched the EB Resource blog as well as our Facebook and Twitter pages. At the time, we set out to reach anyone directly impacted by epidermolysis bullosa to provide a place where they could turn to gather information about important resources available to EB patients and their families. We also hoped to begin growing a support network comprised of those profoundly touched by what they learned about EB, people who wanted to do something because of this awareness.
 
 
 
Across the social media universe, we have seen the power of connection and what it can do in all types of communities — whether it is groups of people joined because of a shared cause or concern, like interests or circumstances or a common mission. We have seen the reach of a community’s commitment to retweet and spread information within our own feeds during EB Resource’s annual tweet-a-thon held each October during EB Awareness Week. But we know there is always more we can do here to help facilitate a supportive environment and avenues for members of the EB community to connect. And that’s where we need your help.
 
 
 
As we continue to build the community in the new year, we hope to include other voices and resources we discover along the way and we want you to reach out to introduce them to us. Also, if there are topics or areas of interest you would like to see covered so we can add more value to the blog or create greater opportunities to interact across our Twitter and Facebook pages, we want to hear those ideas from you. Email me at leslie.rader@hollister.com. Help us make 2017 an even better year for connecting for the members of our community. Thank you in advance for helping us to do that.

Reflections on DCC 2016

This year’s Debra Care Conference in Grapevine, Texas (just outside of Dallas) held July 24-27 offered many of the same valuable experiences as past events but it definitely felt like a new and different event. I wanted to share some observations and thoughts about the conference, including some changes or additions. The first noticeable change on the surface is the name, of course, taking on the organization’s identity as part of the conference title. This was a really good opportunity for families in attendance to connect with various individuals associated with the organization and specific resources available through the organization.

 

 

Each conference leaves its own distinct impression and carries a unique flavor from its predecessors in part because it is hosted by a new city and state when it is held every two years. This was the sixth event I have been a part of but I will admit that my own experiences are shaded differently than other attendees as I am on the Board for debra of America, I do work for a wound care company and was an EB parent, so I bring a unique balance of a variety of emotions to this event each time I attend.

 

I especially love seeing what the planners will offer children attending in the way of activities at that year’s venue. This year, the play area was in the same room as exhibitions and included everything from superheroes and cheerleaders to storytellers, musicians and even a monkey! Everywhere I looked, children were having a blast. One amusing aside: there was a sheriff’s convention being held there on the property at the same time as the DCC. The kids really made quite an impression on the officers in attendance, because they made a point of returning to the kids’ room to talk with them. These tough, no-nonsense authority figures suddenly became like big teddy bears as they interacted with the children. It was beautiful to see.

 

If you asked me what my favorite presentation was, I would not be able to single out any one person. I am always in awe of the extremely intelligent and genuinely caring health care professionals who work so hard to help EB families and take part in this event to meet them and answer questions. I enjoyed listening to all of this year’s presentations.

 

I did spend much of my time talking with attendees in the exhibition hall located just outside the presentation room. Another favorite part of the event for me is getting to visit with the families, some whom I have known for the past 12 years and other new families that I get to meet for the first time at the conference.

 

As always, I was very impressed with the Gaylord Hotels staff. This was the third conference in a row hosted by a Gaylord hotel, this time at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center, and I am constantly amazed at how well they accommodate such a large group of people. The unique way they can bring the outdoors inside and provide a setting that is safe, warm and uplifting to truly welcome our EB families is outstanding.

 

One of the changes made to this year’s schedule was that debra began many of the presentations later in the morning which was helpful to those families who needed the extra time for bandage changes in the morning or who wanted free time to explore the beautiful hotel. In general, there were more opportunities for free time this year which is a wonderful thing when families are getting the unique chance to meet up and visit with each other, and let their kids play together in a fun, safe environment.

 

A final side note: This year’s conference fell on my daughter’s birthday (she would have been 13 this year). It made being at this particular conference a little harder knowing that she could have been one of the kids hanging out in the teen room. But that is not the path I was given. I would not be working for a wound care manufacturer if it wasn’t for the experience she gave me. She has helped me help others and that is what was meant to be.

 

I hope everyone who got a chance to attend this year’s event took away valuable information and many happy memories. I look forward to the 2018 event already.

Why I Heart This Community

Who doesn't love Valentine's Day? Flowers, romance, candy! This weekend, sweethearts and children alike will be delighting in the holiday and just the same, in our house, I have a hunch there will be plenty of heart stickers and chocolate hearts in high demand. We never tire of fun, sweet holiday traditions like that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember how wonderful it felt as a child to receive a Valentine from a classmate or the little friend who lived next door? What I do appreciate about this time of year is that it urges us to express what we feel about others. Too often we don't let people know how much we appreciate them, so what better time is there for us to 'share the love' too?

I 'heart' the EB community, and it like all communities is dynamic. The makeup of its membership is ever-changing as more and more families are impacted by the disease, but as we grow, I have been touched by the show of compassion and welcoming that other families have shown in trying to educate new families as well as those outside the EB community.

We all come from different backgrounds, belief systems and experiences that have made us who we are and for such a diverse group of people to come together and help one another, it is truly a beautiful thing to witness. I've been right there watching and on some occasions, initiating conversations to begin this important dialogue.

I 'heart' the dedicated people who make up the various EB organizations focused on defined missions, whether it is raising funds for advanced research or better EB treatments, growing public awareness and involvement, lobbying for change to existing insurance or regulatory policies that might challenge EB families financially, or supporting members in the community directly with wound care supplies, clinical or caregiving assistance, or other support resources. We each have our own reasons for being here and none supersedes another. But even with our own objectives as public voices and fundraising leaders, we can operate individually and still remind ourselves of our responsibility to support one another. After all, that supports the EB community and its members are the whole reason we do what we do every day.

I 'heart' the possibilities. There are new developments happening all the time in the clinical labs where smart, forward-thinking scientists are finding new avenues to explore to give EB families hope of a cure or improved treatments. We haven't begun to scratch the surface of what all of us, as separate EB organizations and members of the EB community and their families and friends, can do together but I have faith that somewhere in our missions we will find a way to make our collective message louder and clearer to the rest of the world about EB and the toll it takes on a patient and on his or her family.

I embrace this community for what it has done for me and my family, and for all that I and others can do to support other families. We still have much to learn from each other and so many more ways that we can positively touch each other's lives. And that warms my heart most of all.

Happy Valentine's Day weekend to you.

Thanking Those Who Spread the Word

 

Thanksgiving is a time during which many of us attempt to slow down (except during meal preparation) to remind ourselves what we have to be thankful for, so we think this is a perfect time here at EB Resource to do some thanking of our own.

 

When we set up EB Resource nearly five years ago, one of our core goals was to help members of the EB community connect with one another as well as with resources available to them in the medical, nonprofit and medical supply fields. We would not be able to set out to achieve this goal every day if it weren’t for the following invaluable people.

 

  • Nonprofits devoted to supporting EB Awareness and support for families impacted by the disease – From DebRA and EBMRF to EB Research Partnership and I Refuse EB, and several other grass roots organizations and groups of various sizes, these groups and individuals have dedicated themselves to finding their own unique niche for drawing more attention to the cause and raising funds for the particular need they hope to address. Each may have its own distinct goals and strategies but there is one tie that binds them all and that is a collective commitment to take action and inspire others to join in a movement to support the EB community.
     
  • Medical and Educational Institutions which have committed resources to EB research – Physicians and scientists are more readily joining forces on both the care and research fronts to develop and test new and improved treatments and explore potentially groundbreaking trials in the hopes of finding a cure for the disease. With care and research teams committed at such innovative institutions as University of Minnesota, University of Cincinnati Children’s Center and Stanford University, among others, many of us in the EB community remain hopeful that these brilliant minds will uncover new and promising developments.
     
  • Parents and Other EB Caregivers who share their story in the media, in their communities and online to educate others – We frequently share on EB Resource posts that spotlight EB families from across the world who have reached out to their local media to gain greater attention for their story and for the EB community as a whole. Each time a new link is cataloged on Google and other search engines, we offer another window for a glimpse at life with EB. Though we know that every story does not capture the same poignancy, accuracy or depth of the story, we are still encouraged that a growing number of media organizations are beginning to dig deep into the EB story, and we owe it to the many parents and caregivers who have shared their own family’s struggles through these articles, their own blogs or books to educate others about epidermolysis bullosa.
     
  • Supporters within and outside of the EB community who participated this year and in our past EB Tweetathons – We place much value on circles of influence and regardless of how you use your own social media accounts, so we thank those Twitter users who relay our annual messages during EB Awareness Week to their online friends and followers to help us educate and motivate others to get involved in raising EB awareness. We know it can take time, energy and diligence to retweet them all, but some of you do all that you can to make it happen and we so appreciate all who have taken part. Thank you!
     
  • Other Supporters, whether in manufacturing, the arts, business or other sectors – Messages continue to move out into the mainstream media from sources as diverse as Pearl Jam frontman, Eddie Vedder to tennis great, Mats Wilander to medical supply companies and large corporations, college groups, playwrights, photographers, actors and more who find unique ways to use their forum, audience or talents to shine a different light on EB and the people affected by it.

 

We are grateful to all of you for the many ways you’ve used your tools and voices to speak up for the EB community. And during this month of thankfulness, we hoist a mug of cinnamon-tinged apple cider or pumpkin-spiced latte around the dinner table of our EB community.

 

Thank you for all you do.

Looking Out for Each Other

*The information provided in this blog is not medical advice and is not intended to, and does not, replace the advice provided by your health care professional. Always seek advice from your licensed healthcare professional in regards to your healthcare needs.

One aspect of the EB community that has always struck me is the willingness of so many people to support others. When another person is going through the same thing that we are experiencing or have been through in the past, it can be personally gratifying to share our own coping strategies or stress management tips and help someone reduce some of the anxiety we might have once faced.

On PBS's This Emotional Life, they examined how important social connection is to our happiness and found that belonging to a group or a community can give us a sense of identity. Certainly no one chooses to be diagnosed with EB or to be a family learning how to live with the disease daily, but when we have the chance to connect with others who share that distinction and those same challenges, it can provide encouragement and support, and help us to feel part of something larger than ourselves, a community for which we have our own unique role and responsibilities.

What are yours? As part of the EB community, what role do you see yourself playing in other people's lives, either those directly in front of you or within your personal circle, or out there among the rest of this tight-knit but geographically spread out EB community?

With the onset of online support groups, too, we can talk things over and share what we're feeling and experiencing with people clear across the globe who can still serve as a sounding board or even offer their own personal strategies for coping with the stress of living with EB. Sites like www.supportgroups.com and www.dailystrength.org can connect people with similar circumstances, and while I do not endorse these or any particular sites, online support groups are simply another avenue that some people have found helpful for showing support and receiving it from others.

Any community is only as strong as its members so we must do what we can as caregivers, as parents and as patients to make ourselves a priority. That means taking steps to ensure we have a support network in place and finding opportunities to give back as well so we can feel the joy of helping another person whose challenges we identify with and maybe even lighten the burden of their stress and anxiety.

What’s Next for the EB Community?

As we begin a new year, it is exciting to anticipate what lies ahead. Each 365 days we get a few steps closer… closer to educating more people about the skin disorder; closer to reaching more recently diagnosed patients and their families to get tools and information into their hands that they may need; and closer to connecting more clinical researchers to develop better treatments or even a cure in the future. EB awareness has been a core mission for us here at the EB Resource blog since the beginning, and that has not changed. It is just one goal amid many and some very specific missions at other EB-focused organizations, such as DebRA, the EB Research Partnership, EBMRF and other dedicated groups.

Every year, our community grows. New families are touched by the disease, and often their family and close friends join our circle and demonstrate a willingness to learn and share their new knowledge with others. And as that circle expands, we have a greater opportunity to communicate more broadly than we did before and inspire others to ask themselves questions, such as: how can I use my sphere of influence to get the word out about this disease? What talents or skills do I have that could possibly lend themselves to support EB families or campaigns to assist them? And are there specific actions I can take in terms of events, campaigns or community/political involvement that may make a difference for EB resource fundraising, research progress or other tools to support the cause?

Each year, the medical community re-examines current clinical trials underway and frequently launches additional research to test new treatments by working closely with EB patients and their families. What new trials might 2015 include? It is too early for us to share here, but, as always, you can expect we will be keeping our eyes and ears focused on the latest news of these clinical trials and sharing with you what we learn.

A new year is a wonderful time to look back and assess, as well as look ahead and target those things we want to do. So we suggest at this ideal time, the start of a fresh new year to ask yourself the question, 'what is next for the EB community?' Because that will also be very much up to you to decide. And we look forward to a new year of educating others about EB with you.