I’m Brian Smith. I’m 28 and I have CFS.
As anyone who also has CFS knows, this illness changes every aspect of your life. Before I got sick in March 1995, I was a typical prep school freshman in Omaha, Nebraska. Four-sport athlete. Honor Roll. The sky was the limit. Then during soccer tryouts I was slammed with an acute bout of mononucleosis. My world has never been the same.
It was tough but I graduated from high school on time, and then college at Arizona State. I worked for a large investment company for a while, but had to resign due to a significant relapse. My body simply wouldn’t cooperate. I was forced to move back home with my parents, where I now live.
Ironically, before I became ill with CFS, I was interested in medical research. That’s one of the many reasons why the CFIDS Association of America’s Campaign to Accelerate CFS Research is so exciting, and why I’m investing in its success. I hope you will, too.
My physical limitations steered my undergraduate studies toward business and sociology, but I would still love to pursue a career that encompasses CFS research. In fact, I’ve already completed the science courses necessary for medical school. But what’s next? I’m not sure. Given my health, I must be realistic.
My illness has deprived me of many things. I didn’t have the luxury of having a high school sweetheart. I wasn’t able to attend homecoming, nor could I participate in sports. During college I had to take lighter course loads, pass up dates and watch my friends participate in most of the other activities typical students take for granted. I now watch on the sidelines as other guys my age embark on careers, get married, buy their first homes, begin families.
CFS has made me a prisoner in my own body.
But CFS has also taught me to be a more patient, compassionate individual. I have learned to be creative and adapt as dictated by my unpredictable symptoms on a daily basis.
CFS taught me I can still be a productive citizen, despite my erratic energy level. When the opportunity to serve on the Board of Directors of the CFIDS Association was presented, I accepted immediately. I love being in a position to advocate for others with CFS. Service on the Board is one of the many blessings in my life.
Most importantly, CFS has taught me never to give up. I cannot sit idly and let this illness define who I am. Every time CFS knocks me down, I must get up and continue to fight—not only for myself, but for the four million other Americans afflicted with this disease.
That’s why we—all of us in the CFS community—need to support the CFIDS Association’s Campaign to Accelerate CFS Research. It’s our opportunity to propel CFS research forward by leaps and bounds. We’ve waited long enough for answers. If not us, who? If not now, when?
Here’s a great incentive to give now: Every dollar you donate online through this appeal will be matched by the WWW Foundation, a private, LA-area independent foundation. That means a $25 gift will be doubled to $50 automatically. A gift of $500 becomes $1,000!
As a member of the Board and as a CFS patient, I ask you to join me in making a gift to accelerate CFS research today. Let’s find answers that lead to improved diagnostic tools, better treatment options and, hopefully, a cure.
On behalf of all of us who live with the challenges of CFS every day, thank you.
Learn more about the CFIDS Association’s Campaign to Accelerate CFS Research.