Monica is an extremely hard working mother and advocate who has battled serious ME/CFS for many years now. She is an example of following your heart, thinking locally, and ending up with a global impact! Monica began a small support group in her home in Silicon Valley. She had a deep pasison tohelp others who had nobody else to talk to or relate to. Due to her enormous heart and enormous efforts, Monica helped to expand the group to so many people, that they were spilling out the door. She brought the support group to be held at the famous Palo Alto Medical Foundation hospital, where world leaders in neuro-immune Invisible Diseases speak and connect with an enormous number of Bay Area Invisible Diseases survivors and caregivers. Because of Monica, countless people have found hope where there was none, and friends where there were none.
Please take a moment to see her interview video (below) and read her proclamation here:
"Have you ever been on a bad carnival ride that you couldn't get off of?
That ill feeling that overtakes your entire body, leaving you with no control to stop the misery. As you look around amidst the chaos everyone around you is smiling, laughing and carrying on. This ride from hell affects millions around the world and is known as CFS.
Looking back, I believe I had CFS even as a juvenile. As I got older, the disease became more pronounced, more disabling. I was housebound for many years and bedridden for part of that time. My young children had to accept the unfortunate limitations that their mother had to offer. I thank the few family members that were there for me, specifically, my loving mother, my life saver. Her support and care for me and my children has been the biggest blessing in my life.
I believe that one of the most valuable things in coping with any chronic condition is knowing that you are not alone, knowing that others can relate. As I worsened, I needed to connect with other CFS patients and put my limited energy into starting a support group.
In 2005, our first meeting was held, right out of my mother's living room. Today, CFSBayArea has over 100 online members. I credit and thank a few unnamed people for their assistance in helping me keep our group going. Our small, yet invaluable, in-person meetings are still held monthly in Mountain View, CA.
Although my condition has improved, I am far from healthy. The struggles of invisible illnesses such as CFS are very real. I assure you, that weakness and exhaustion are just the tip of the iceberg. Severe patients are often sicker than those with HIV. We do not lounge in bed with a remote, eating Bon-Bon's and napping. The pain, lack of strength, ill feeling and relentless fatigue, amongst many other symptoms, can be utterly consuming.
Patients- You are some of the strongest folks I've ever met. Smart, passionate and valuable. You are not alone.
Caregivers- Be kind to yourselves for the job is not an easy one. You are somebody's blessing and for that, we thank you.
Advocates and Researchers- Our silence would be deafening without you in the front line. Your effort and passion keep us hopeful.
Franky & Randy- I admire you both so much. Amidst your own struggles, you give us your precious energy, time and compassion. Thank you for all that you do and for your work with InvisibleDiseases.com xoxo.
Thank you for this amazing award. Although I feel it undeserved, I humbly and graciously accept it, dedicating it to my late friend, Amberlin Wu.
Hope is like a bird that senses the dawn and carefully starts to sing while it is still dark. – Anonymous
To find out more information about our support group, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org."
-Monica Zavala (Our Visible Hero!)
See Monica and her friend, Amberlin Wu, being interviewed by Dr Franky Dolan here: