For Grace: A Voice for Women in Pain

In my new post for HealthCentral, I did a follow-up interview with Cynthia Toussaint about her nonprofit foundation For Grace, an organization for women who live with pain:

'“I wanted to start what I needed when I got sick.”

Cynthia Toussaint is a woman with a mission. She wants to help women in pain get better treatment and live better lives. Originally inspired by being recognized as the "Ballerina to Bedridden HMO Victim," yet no one could remember the name of her disease, she created For Grace, a nonprofit for people living with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).

“I had a picture in my head of a women lying in bed with CRPS, wanting to kill herself. I wanted to stop her,” Cynthia says. She and her partner John Garrett created For Grace to provide “knowledge, awareness and resources.” She wasn’t satisfied to focus on North America, but had a goal of creating worldwide awareness. They worked with the Discovery Channel on documentary entitled Pain Matters: Exploring Chronic Pain in America (broadcast dates this fall include November 16, December 7 and 14, 8 AM).

Women in Pain and Gender Bias
As For Grace worked to create awareness, Cynthia became increasingly aware of the issue of gender bias in healthcare. “It was always women who called. When a man occasionally called to share his story, I asked if a doctor ever said they were crazy. The answer was always no.” When women called Cynthia, they told stories of being “dismissed, diminished, offered sedatives and psychiatric referrals,” she says. “For women it’s ‘you’re 50 now, pain is normal.’ They’re told they are making a mountain out of a mole hill or told it’s hormonal. At first, I was comforted by other women sharing my experience, then I got angry — they’re all suffering so much.”'

You can read the rest of the post here.


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