My name is Heather McCain. I have been living with disability and chronic pain for seventeen years, exactly half of my life. I learned, fairly quickly, that the public perception of disability and chronic pain is not a true reflection of my experiences or of others. The media tends to only tell stories about people with disabilities, chronic pain, and/or health issues if they can put them in a hero or victim role and I want to demonstrate that we are more than what the media portrays. I have also come to recognize that there is a silence to life with disability and chronic pain and that they are not often openly discussed and as such it is hard for those without disability or chronic pain to understand the issues we deal with on a daily basis. As a person with an acquired disability I understand what it is to live a life with no thought to accessibility, disability or chronic pain. Without first hand knowledge it is easy to have preconceived notions or to have no notion at all about what disability and/or chronic pain is and how it affects one’s life.
Over the past ten years I have worked to educate, advise and instruct people, whether individuals, groups, companies, non-profits or the media, through three ventures: my first was founding and running a chronic pain support group for six years, my second was writing a monthly column entitled Abilities for the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Times over a five year period during which I profiled community members living with disability and chronic pain, and my third venture was founding Citizens for Accessible Neighbourhoods in 2005, a non-profit organization that works to support full inclusion within communities of which I am the Executive Director. From all I have experienced through these three ventures as well as through my daily life I have realized that there is a definite need and desire for information from a first hand perspective about life with disability and chronic pain available in an open forum, therefore I am launching this blog.
My hope, with this blog, is to offer insight while changing misperceptions, expanding people’s knowledge and starting a dialogue. I will also be using this blog to educate about the need for accessibility as well as what accessibility means and educating about the proper etiquette while interacting with people with disabilities. Additionally, I hope that by sharing my experiences those who live with disability and chronic pain will see the commonalities in our lives and feel supported, empathized with and understood. When I first started experiencing disability and chronic pain I often wondered if my struggles, frustrations, and encounters were exclusive to me and I felt enormous relief and support when I realized that while my specifics were unique I had a lot in common with others living with disability and chronic pain.
I welcome any feedback and comments. I hope to start conversations with this blog so please feel free to comment. However I do want to mention that as someone living with a disability and chronic pain I have experienced enough negative comments and judgements thrown my way so while I welcome comments, including those not agreeing with me, I ask that you be respectful and not use any abusive, shaming, or rude language.
Thank you for visiting my blog. I have more detailed information about myself, my organization, and the four purposes of this blog in the about sections located in the tabs at the top of the page or by visiting our site: http://canbc.org/