Karen Smith’s Story

Many people in pain want to share their story, and they ask me for help in doing so. Sometimes, I mention people who are in pain when I am speaking in public or talking with the media. Occasionally, someone tells me a story that is so poignant and eloquent that, with permission, I publish it. An example is Kenneth McKenna’s story that I recently published on my blog under the title, “A Veteran’s Story in His Own Words.”

Each story is unique, and I wish I could tell them all. Most of all, I wish that we had enough people in our society who would listen. My hope is that, by sharing enough stories, we can help remove the stigma from chronic pain and move toward convincing policymakers and health care professionals to treat people in pain with the compassion they deserve.

How to Share Your Experiences

You do not need to wait for me to tell your story. It is possible to share your experiences in a number of ways.

Find your Federal and State elected officials, and send them an email or letter. You may also arrange an in-person meeting. You elected them, so they have a responsibility to listen to you.

Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, and explain why your story matters. You can find contact information for most newspapers’ editorial pages here. You can also get in touch with the newsroom of your local talk/news radio station or television station. and express your willingness to speak with a reporter about your story.

Alternatively, you can create a blog using a platform such as WordPress, Wix, Blogger, and others, or you can post your journey on your social media accounts. If you have the time and want to tell your story in a longer format, Amazon provides free tools you can use to create and publish your own book or digital book.

If you feel more comfortable telling your story visually, you can create a slideshow or video presentation and edit it with Adobe Spark, Windows 10‘s built-in video editor, or your Mac’s built-in software.

Here’s Karen Smith’s Story

Karen Smith is a person with chronic pain and an advocate who created a 10-minute video called “Karen Smith: The Stigma and Social Consequences of Chronic Pain.” She used her speaking skills to articulate her experiences. After safely using opioids for years, she was able to taper her pain patch and oral medications down by half on her own. Unfortunately, she is now dealing with horrific neuropathic pain in her chest wall from radiation treatment for breast cancer.

Yet, as Karen tells us in the video, she often doesn’t look as if she’s in enough pain to warrant the treatment she needs. Along with dealing with pain, she also has to cope with health care providers and others who care more about whether or not she is wearing lipstick than about how she feels. By sharing her video, Karen helps educate viewers and brings us one step closer to the day when people will not judge chronic pain patients as drug seekers or people of poor character.

Karen is a Pain Educator advocating for pain patients through her presentations to health care professionals and others in the pain community. A highlight of Karen’s advocacy work included being named the first of two Patient Partners ever appointed to the Scientific Committee of the Canadian Pain Society. She is also on the Executive Committee of the Chronic Pain Network.  You can connect with her on LinkedIn or email her at karensmith@bellaliant.net.

I hope that, by sharing Karen’s video here, I can encourage you to tell your own story. We need to hear your voice in order to make a difference.


Karen Smith, Chronic Pain Advocate

Karen Smith, Chronic Pain Advocate


  1. Cheryl Vanmeter on February 25, 2020 at 6:35 pm

    Just read the comment above and have to say I agree with every word. Thirty two years ago I was told I have Fibromyagia from a work related back injury.I tried returning to work but the lifting on the job caused disc to bulge in my spine. Tried to work several different jobs over the years with Chronic,pain ,Fibromyalgia, Arthritis ,and Bipolar disorder. Doctors r.and other people have called me lazy,that I just want attention and do not want to work.Dont qualify for disability because of to few work creditsCant get any kind of state because my husband makes to much or because I am not 60 years of age Do I feel sorry for the healthy person on welfare heck no.I am a advocate for Fibromyalgia and in the past was a support group leader.Dont judge me because I look healthy when in truth my body is in pain 24/7 a day and I deal with it because most people don’t believe me.I would not wish my life on anyoneand if not for God I would not be here.We need our health care workers,our senators,our judges to learn all the can about Chronic Pain and to help us instead of hurting us.

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