For millions of Americans, every day brings a new struggle against overwhelming pain and fatigue — and neither they nor their doctors know why.
The mysterious ailments that affect them have names like fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, Gulf War Veterans Illness and vulvodynia. They cause symptoms like muscle aches, extreme tenderness, and ever-present tiredness. But no one really knows what causes such syndromes to start, why they linger, or how they can be controlled.
Now, a new effort at the University of Michigan Health System aims to accelerate the understanding of these chronic multi-symptom illnesses that derail so many lives.
The U-M team has already made great strides in these areas through past research, including landmark findings about alterations in the brain’s pain-processing areas among people with fibromyalgia, and successful studies of new drugs. They have won numerous research grants from the National Institutes of Health and private foundations and companies to support further studies.
But more funding is needed to help answer other questions that U-M scientists want to address, and make progress to help patients today and tomorrow.
That’s why the Shane family of Santa Monica, California, established the Gregory Shane Fibromyalgia Fund, in honor of a young man whose life changed almost overnight when he developed constant pain, weakness and sensitivity to light and sound while in his senior year of college.
Greg went from an active, athletic student and actor, with plans to teach in under-privileged areas, to being unable to walk, drive or lift things. He has made strides in coping with his disease via exercise, biofeedback and therapy, and received help in finding a medication he could tolerate.
Now, Greg is teaching theater to elementary school students, and driving again, but still feels pain constantly. His parents, Lynn and John, decided they wanted to establish a fund in his honor that would support research aimed at understanding and alleviating the effects of fibromyalgia. They searched the nation for a research team to support, and found the U-M center after reading of its achievements.
The Shanes’ own generous donation got the fund started, but now they’re working to attract new donors from around the nation. “We wanted to honor our son’s struggle, and that of other fibromyalgia patients like him, by giving to a team that we know is on the cutting edge of research and working to pave the way for new and better treatments,” says Lynn Shane. “We hope others will give in the name of someone they love who has battled this same illness.”
To donate to the Gregory Shane Fibromyalgia Fund, contact Heather West at 866-860-0026 or 734-647-1619, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, to donate online using a credit card, visit http://www.medicineatmichigan.org, click “Give a Gift Today” and enter the fund’s name on the donor form.
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