Driving research of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME / CFS),
Post Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS), Fibromyalgia and Post COVID .

Meet Artist & ME/CFS Advocate Christina Baltais | #TripleGivingTuesday

#TripleGivingTuesday Research Update

An Interview with Artist & ME/CFS Advocate, Christina Baltais

As part of Triple Giving Tuesday, Open Medicine Foundation (OMF) is honored to share our Community Spotlight on artist and ME/CFS advocate Christina Baltais.

Christina’s profoundly compassionate and moving artwork uses diverse mediums, including painting, collage, photography, writing, and art videos. A resident of Toronto, Ontario, Christina’s art is directly inspired by her experiences living with ME/CFS for the past 15 years. Her goal is to bring comfort and healing to others who live with this disease and to those that can relate to its themes.

Starting October 29, 2020, through International Giving Tuesday on December 1, 2020, Christina will generously donate a portion of proceeds from sales of her original artwork to OMF, where it will be triple matched! Check out Christina’s online art shop now. Every piece you purchase from now until December 1 directly supports groundbreaking OMF funded research into ME/CFS.

OMF had the exciting opportunity to get an exclusive interview with Christina about her art, advocacy work, and life with ME/CFS.

What does your daily life look like with ME/CFS? 

I have mild ME/CFS, which feels like a complete understatement considering how sick I am. For me, daily life is quite variable depending on things like sleep, if I’ve been pacing, and any external life stressors. On a good day, I can create some art, meet up with a friend/family, or have an outing. On a bad day, l am confined to my couch because I don’t have the physical or mental capacity to function due to symptoms like vertigo, brain fog, and an overall heaviness that permeates my entire body — just to name a few.

How did your interest in art begin?

I was a very creative child, and my interest in art began there. I attended Etobicoke School of the Arts when I was in high school, which offered an incredible opportunity to explore visual arts while also going to school. I then veered towards the sciences and studied Nutrition and Naturopathic Medicine. I came down with ME/CFS when I was 20 years old. For the next ten years, I struggled but managed to complete my undergraduate degree (Nutritional and Nutraceutical Sciences) and then nearly finish my ND (Naturopathic Doctor) degree. My health was a constant struggle, and studying was only possible with the help of a lot of accommodations. I kept finding that whenever my ME/CFS flared up, I always fell back into art to process what I was experiencing.

What type of art do you create, and what inspires you to make it?

I’d say my art can be quite variable, but lately, I’ve been exploring collage art and portrait photography. I find collage art less energy-intensive than painting, so it’s been a more accessible art form for me these days. I feel compelled to create art about my experiences with ME/CFS because I want others to understand what our community is going through. The most painful and vulnerable parts of this disease have inspired a lot of my work.

Do you think that your artwork has helped you to represent your experiences living with ME/CFS and express your feelings?

Yes, most definitely. I use art as the main vehicle for my voice because I believe it can capture a moment or a feeling, often better than words. A visual image about grief, isolation, resilience, etc. can speak a thousand words and invoke a feeling in the viewer that I hope they can relate to as someone with ME/CFS or as someone who feels that as part of the human experience.

Has your artistic work helped you to cope with ME/CFS? If so, in what ways has it helped?

It’s helped me release a lot of the shame I felt from the stigma surrounding ME/CFS, which I’d been carrying for a long time. When I started putting my art on social media, I began connecting to this sea of people I could relate to, and who could relate to me.

This incredible community is what has helped me cope more than anything — and I wish I had found it sooner. My future and the future of millions depend on advances in research. When my health permits it, I create artwork focused on my experiences living with this disease; to play my part in raising awareness for ME health equality.

Please check out Christina’s website, online store, or follow her on Instagram. And when you purchase Christina’s artwork during Triple Giving Tuesday, she will donate a percentage of the proceeds directly to OMF!

When you donate to OMF any day of the week, your gift will be triple matched. Please amplify Christina’s message of hope by donating generously today:

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Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME / CFS) Post Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS), Fibromyalgia Leading Research. Delivering Hope.Open Medicine Foundation®

 

Averting a second pandemic:

Open Medicine Foundation leads groundbreaking international study of

Long COVID’s conversion to ME/CFS

AGOURA HILLS, CALIF.  — Open Medicine Foundation (OMF) is leading a large-scale international collaborative study investigating the potential conversion of Post-Acute Sequelae SARS-CoV-2 infection — more commonly known as Long COVID or Post-COVID Syndrome —  to Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), a chronic, life-altering disease with no known cause, diagnostic test or FDA approved treatments available.

Up to 2.5 million people in the U.S. alone suffer from ME/CFS; the COVID-19 pandemic could at least double that number. An estimated 35 percent of Americans who had COVID-19 have failed to fully recover several months after infection, prompting many to call it “a potential second pandemic.”

OMF recognized a familiar health crisis emerging, one with eerie similarities to ME/CFS. This crisis presented a unique opportunity to understand how a viral infection — in this case COVID-19 — may develop into ME/CFS in some patients. The goal is to find targeted treatments for ME/CFS patients and ultimately prevent its onset in people infected with SARS-CoV-2 or other infections.

The federal government is only now investing in Post-COVID research, with no focus on its connection to ME/CFS. OMF has already engaged researchers for the largest-scale study of its kind, solely supported by private donors who have contributed over one million dollars to date. When fully funded, the five million dollar, three-year study will be conducted across the globe at OMF funded Collaborative Research Centers, led by some of the world’s top researchers and ME/CFS experts.

BACKGROUND

In a significant percentage of patients, infections preceded their development of ME/CFS.  For example, according to the CDC about one in ten infected with Epstein-Barr virus, Ross River virus, or Coxiella burnetti develop symptoms that meet the criteria for ME/CFS.

THE STUDY

The ability to follow the development of ME/CFS from a known viral infection is unprecedented to date and crucial to researchers’ understanding of the disease. The focus of this study is to find the biological differences between persons returning to good health after COVID-19 and persons who remained ill more than six months after infection and developed ME/CFS.  Understanding these alterations in key pathways can lead to groundbreaking discoveries including new biomarkers, drug targets, and prevention and treatment strategies.

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About Open Medicine Foundation

Established in 2012, Open Medicine Foundation leads the largest, concerted worldwide nonprofit effort to diagnose, treat, and prevent ME/CFS and related chronic, complex diseases such as Post Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and Post COVID. OMF adds urgency to the search for answers by driving transformational philanthropy into global research. We have raised over $28 Million from private donors and facilitated and funded the establishment of five prestigious ME/CFS Collaborative Research Centers around the world. To learn more, visit www.omf.ngo.

CONTACT:

Heather Ah San

Development and Communications Manager

1-650-242-8669

heather@omf.ngo