Hope SPC helps community members in Sammamish, WA cope with chronic pain and invisible illness by providing a local support group.
After suffering from chronic pain and depression for several years, doTERRA Wellness Advocate, Tracy Strand, reached out to find a support group within her community. When she didn’t feel like any community support groups offered what she needed, she approached her church about starting a support group for church and community members with chronic pain, depression, anxiety, or any other chronic issues.
With this idea, Tracy started the Sammamish Presbyterian Church Hope Women’s Support Group (Hope SPC) for chronic pain and invisible illness. Invisible illness refers to any disability or condition that is not visible to others—meaning, the individual may look perfectly healthy. Many of these conditions are mental illnesses, or chronic conditions that cause limitations in daily life like depression and anxiety.1 The mission of Hope SPC is to cultivate faith and hope in order to encourage women who are living with chronic pain and invisible illnesses.
In the past, Tracy always wanted to give back to her church and community, but it was hard for her because of the unpredictability of her illnesses. The Hope SPC group provided her with a safe place to receive support, while also reaching out to others of her faith and community struggling with similar ailments. She says, “Chronic and invisible pain can be a silent, painful burden to carry. Some of us try to do it all by ourselves so we don’t wear down our loved ones.”
Chronic diseases are the leading cause of death in the United States, and visible conditions like heart disease, cancer, and strokes are among the most common chronic illnesses.2 For those with chronic pain or invisible illnesses, divorce and suicide rates are high. Not only do these individuals have to deal with the physical effects of their pain, but these conditions also take an emotional toll. Those living with invisible illnesses may appear healthy on the outside, but suffer from uncomfortable and painful ailments like migraines, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune diseases, Crohn’s disease, MS, diabetes, and more.
The SPC Hope support group aims to help each other through challenging times as they cope with their illnesses. Tracy and other women in her community have developed a tight-knit group that lends friendship and support, as they travel the journey of life together.