Kerri Stephenson had a small win last week on her 40th birthday, and she’s still celebrating.
“I had a very special day and I was able to sit at the table to eat and blow out all those candles – very cool,’’ she said.
This was not easy to do for the Wollongong ME/CFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome) and FM (fibromyalgia) Support Group member.
After getting glandular fever in the 1990s, Ms Stephenson developed all these illnesses - which has resulted in her being house-bound ever since.
The Tarrawanna woman actually is more often than not bed-bound, but she still finds the time to co-ordinate Wollongong ME/CFS and FM group's email and Facebook accounts.
May is International ME/CFS, FM & Lyme Awareness Month, with Awareness Day on May 12.
The Wollongong group is distributing more than 2000 information posters throughout the region. It also has a display at Wollongong Library from May 9-23.
Information will also be available from all branch libraries from Helensburgh to Kiama.
‘’People can also support various social media campaigns to highlight these invisible illnesses,’’ Ms Stephenson said.
‘’The Undies on the Outside challenge is a great initiative because superheroes wear their undies on the outside – and you have to be a superhero to live with this disease.
‘’The idea is to take a photo and share it on social media using the hashtag #UndiesChallenge, donate $10 to the Open Medicine Foundation’s End ME/CFS Project, then nominate three other people to do the same.’’
In the meantime Ms Stephenson will continue helping other sufferers, including her parents John and Winsome Stephenson, the current coordinators of the group.
Winsome was diagnosed with ME/CFS, FM and MCS in the 1980's after viral pneumonia, John with ME/CFS following Ross River Fever in the 1990's.
The duo along with their daughter Kerri have been members of the Wollongong support group since 1996.
The group formed in 1989, also supports those affected by other chronic neuro-immune conditions, such as Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS) and Lyme disease.
Visit mecfsfmwollongong.org or call 4284 8890 for more information about the group.
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