After London, Don and I traveled on June 2 to the Netherlands (Utrecht), our second stop on our OMF End ME/CFS Worldwide Tour 2018 and our first visit to this beautiful country with so many bikes everywhere! We couldn’t wait to finally meet with old and especially new Dutch friends, some of them members of our International Translations Team, who helped us this year with over 45 Dutch translations, including translating the resources for this event.
On Saturday night, we enjoyed the evening with our dear friends Rob Wijbenga and Eddy Keuninckx and his lovely wife Nicole. We had the chance to thank them again for their great work with the ME Global Chronicle and to catch up since our 2017 Tour.
On Sunday, we finally had the chance to meet with Carolien van Leijen and her great team of the ME/CVS Vereniging, who coordinated and organized an absolutely amazing event here in Utrecht. The room was fully packed with about 100 attendees, half patients, and half parents, caregivers and family members. In my talk I focused on sharing a research summary and updates. After my talk, Ruud Vermeulen, PhD, spoke about recent events in the Netherlands and Europe to support research and treatment of patients.
We had lots of great questions from an engaged and interested audience, with whom I had a chance to meet afterwards. I also met two lovely people from the KissMEGoodbye group and Rene Roberts (Walk for ME) and thanked them personally for their impressive actions. During the coffee break, I was interviewed by a Dutch journalist who asked interesting questions, and he will write about the status of ME/CFS in the Netherlands and the fact that it is real disease.
It was lovely to meet our new Dutch friends and to share hope with them after the difficult challenges they have been facing. In 2011, a group of 10 severely ill patients (Group ME Den Haag) started a petition to recognize ME/CVS. The petition was presented to the Dutch Parliament in 2013 and led to the installation of a “Committee ME/CVS.” The Advisory Report of the Dutch Health Council was published and presented to the Parliament and Government/Minister of Health in March 2018, stating that “ME/CFS is a serious disease that is accompanied by substantial functional limitations, and a patient’s decision to forego CBT or GET should not be regarded as inadequate recovery behavior.” The Dutch patients – helped by patients, advocates and doctors from all over the world — showed us again the strength of patient advocacy working together for a common goal: better healthcare and biomedical research for patients in the Netherlands and worldwide. It was an absolute honor for me to be here and meet some of these great advocates!
With hope for all,