NFS's 1st Annual FM Life Supporter Awards, 2006
NFA is the National Fibromyalgia Association of the USA that asked for nominations for FM patients' "Life Supporters". From those nominated eight of the most powerful stories were selected as winners and were featured in 'Fibromyalgia Aware', the NFA's magazine, special edition, produced to co-incide with the FAME Conference in California in March this year, that Jo attended with Jeanne Hambledon.
Our entry was included among the eight printed stories. This is it:
'Stella Bernardi met Jo Fisher, founder, of the Fibromyalgia Support Group for Surrey and Sussex (UK) when Bernardi joined the group in 2004, about a year after it got off the ground.
"This is an unpaid, full-time job for a woman who's classified disabled," Bernardi said in her nomination of Fisher.
The support Group runs a help-line six hours each weekday and holds two meetings every month. Bernardi designed and monitors the website. The group also produces a bi-monthly magazine and holds awareness days during which alternative therapists give mini-sessions to FM patients at no cost.
"She has been a tower of strength to members of the group, and an inspiration to others who work voluntarily with her," Bernardi says. "She is a gem."
For Fisher, running a support group has been a reward in and of itself. "I believe this has given me a reason to get up in the morning and I have grown in confidence and self esteem," she says.
"There are times when I think, 'I must be mad doing this - what's it all for?' But it's like any other job or vocation: it only takes one member, to ring the helpline in distress, and you know exactly why you do what you do."'
Ours was the only winning entry from outside the USA.