“I reached a point in my journey when I knew I needed to find meaning in this experience or succumb completely to the disease.”
Kathryn (Kate) Palmer first experienced Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) at age 20 after routine surgery. This progressive, neuro-inflammatory chronic pain condition is the most painful disease a person can experience. Lucky to receive a correct diagnosis and prompt treatment, she quickly went into remission. Unfortunately, there is no cure for CRPS, and symptoms can reoccur any time. Five years later, a snowboarding accident triggered another episode. It took two years of difficult therapy for Kate to find relief from the pain.
Through drastic lifestyle modifications (giving up many activities she loved) she managed to control the pain, complete her graduate degree, and begin her career as a counselling therapist. In her late 30s, Kate was married with three children under five when her CRPS unexpectedly returned, quickly spreading throughout her body. This time, no combination of medications, procedures, or therapies could improve her condition. Kate will likely never experience another pain-free moment.
Faced with constant pain, and the fatigue, depression and anxiety that follow, Kate left her career to focus on supporting her family and confronting her disease. She volunteers at her children’s school and on two Boards related to her children’s swimming activities. She even proudly participated in a parent relay at her children’s swim meet, despite knowing it would exacerbate her condition.
Determined to make a difference, Kate and another CRPS sufferer established the CRPS Hope & Awareness Foundation. They provide workshops for medical professionals, maintain a resource library, and host a monthly support group. Even though Kate is unable to win the fight with CRPS in her own body, she has found the courage to combat it on a grander scale, providing hope for those faced with this debilitating disease.