Deborah Turk’s Advocacy Story

Deborah Turk’s advocacy story is written and told by Deb Turk and edited by Miles for Migraine team.  Miles for Migraine’s Advocacy Stories highlights the many different ways that health advocacy shows up as individuals advocate for themselves and others. This project is not limited to migraine and other headache disorders, nor is it limited to individuals that personally experience a health condition.

Deborah Turk’s Advocacy Story

The first moment I typed ‘migraine’ into my tablet was the beginning of my advocacy journey. Since then, as a migraine advocate, I have traveled, forged new relationships, and shed light on the realities of living with migraine disease, at times, sharing experiences from my own life. I have made it my purpose to become a mouthpiece in the battle for understanding, recognition, and against migraine stigma. There have been so many rewarding experiences and great memories during my journey that if asked, I honestly could not pick a favorite.

BUT… There is an experience that sticks out to me as being especially meaningful. I had the privilege of representing Miles For Migraine both times that they had a booth at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women, in Philadelphia. Attendees of the conference were women of different ages, from all walks of life. They all had their own reasons for attending the conference. The reaction I perceived in them when they noticed the booth, to a large degree, was surprising: “I didn’t know there was an organization for migraines!”

Deborah Turk’s Migraine Advocacy

Then, there often was the sentence: “My _____ used to get really bad headaches and had to lie in the dark. Now I know…”

Then, there were the women who currently have migraine who had a lot of questions. The majority of them did not see a specialist and were not informed about available treatments. Some spoke about their employment being affected and had no idea that migraine qualifies as a disability, and that they may have legal protections available to them. I loved being able to listen to their experiences and share what knowledge I could share with them in that brief period of time. I would see their faces either become thoughtful as if cogs in their brains were beginning to turn or light up as if they had just made a glorious discovery. At times, the booth would become swamped, and it would be a challenge for my partner and me to connect with each person and answer their questions, but it was exciting.

I came away from the Pennsylvania Convention for Women each year with the knowledge that the attendees who stopped by our booth felt the way I did, after that first session on my tablet; empowered. Their advocacy journeys had begun. Their advocacy journeys would be good for them, and good for us all.

Advocacy Stories collage

Tell your Advocacy Story

Do you have an advocacy story to tell? What is one of the most memorable advocacy experiences in your headache disease journey/daily life? Try to recall a time when you practiced advocacy. Perhaps you shared your story, posted on social media, or attended an advocacy event such as Headache on the Hill or a Miles for Migraine event. Looking back on that experience, what did you notice? Did you experience a negative moment such as shame, stigma, or a positive moment such as joy, hope, or relief? If there was conflict, did you resolve it or was it a conflict that still affects you today? If the outcome was positive, how did that make you feel? Did the outcome cause you to advocate again for yourself? How has your most memorable story shaped you today? There is no right or wrong way to share your story.


Are you inspired by these advocacy stories and want to donate to  Miles for Migraine? All or part of your donation may be tax-deductible as a charitable contribution. Please consult with your tax advisor. Funds raised help with our operational costs so that we can continue to produce races and youth camp events. Money raised through donations and race registrations goes directly to medical organizations researching migraine.

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