Jeffrey C. Blum, M.D.
Dr. Jeff Blum considers himself one of the fortunate ones.
During his last month of medical school, Blum awoke with what he thought was the flu. His symptoms included severe fatigue, mental fog, joint pain. As is often typical with people with CFS, he can remember the exact day, almost the hour, he says, of his onset.
When his illness persisted, he sought the advice of many respected professors he’d met during his training. “They took me seriously, but they couldn’t come up with a diagnosis,” says Blum. “Most of them thought it was some type of viral infection. My wife named it ‘the Blum virus.’”
This first episode lasted four months. As Blum continued his medical training, his symptoms would return, particularly following over-exertion or exercise. “I would feel wonderful. I’d go out and jog or try to exercise, then boom! Forty-eight hours later, it would hit me. Severe debilitating fatigue, headaches and difficulty processing information would abruptly set in. The wheels in my brain would just not turn. How I pushed myself through medical training is amazing,” he says, noting that, 40 years later, he still struggles with post-exertional relapse.
Blum was diagnosed with chronic Epstein-Barr virus by a doctor in Charlotte, N.C. Then he met Dr. Paul Cheney, who diagnosed him with CFS.
About the same time, Blum also met Association founder Marc Iverson. “I’ve followed and supported the Association from the very beginning. I’m so impressed by the professionalism, the values and the integrity of the organization. I also have tremendous admiration for the dedicated professional staff of the Association. Kim McCleary has been an outstanding president and CEO,” he says. “When you look at the history of the things this little organization has accomplished, it’s like David against Goliath. It’s remarkable – advocating for patients on a national level, blowing up the misuse of the CDC’s research funds for CFS, raising funds for research. From the beginning, the Association has been important to me to validate what I have.”
Blum was an early skeptic of the Association’s transformation to a research-support organization. “Early on, when they discussed raising funds for research, I was pessimistic, because I felt where the research money was, was in government and we needed to keep pushing the government. The idea that the Association could raise money on its own was crazy – where are we going to get this money privately?” he says. “I’ve been totally surprised by the money the Association raised. They proved me wrong. They exceeded my expectations of what they could do. I didn’t think they could pull it off last time, but they did, and now I’m a full-on believer.”
It’s the Association’s results, coupled with Blum’s sense of good fortune, that drove his gift to THECatalystFUND. “I’m one of the fortunate persons with CFS. I’ve been fortunate to have been able to pursue my profession and enjoy my family. However, I’ve known others with this illness who are so debilitated, they were mostly confined to bed,” Blum notes. “Many of them are young and formerly productive citizens in our society. Their illness and disability are real. They are not faking it. I feel tremendous empathy for these individuals. I understand their frustration with the majority of my associates in the medical profession who, because of a lack of understanding and knowledge of CFS, do not take these patients seriously.
“My wife, Linda, and I decided to make a significant contribution to THECatalystFUND as a way of sharing our good fortune despite a lifelong struggle with CFS,” says Blum. “It is our hope that this will significantly support the important Association-sponsored research projects currently underway and those forthcoming.”
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Your gift to THECatalystFUND will help speed discovery and transform the way that CFS research is conducted. Online gifts can be made through our secure donations page at: http://bit.ly/2011fund. Donations are tax-deductible to the full extent permitted by law.