Contributed by: Cindy Steinberg
Reviewed by: Kevin Zacharoff, MD
Cindy Steinberg is the American Pain Foundation’s (APF) Pain Community Council representative to the Board of Directors, the Power Over Pain Action Network Leader for Massachusetts, New England Director of the American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA), Leader of the Boston-area Chapter of the ACPA, and Legislative Chair of the Massachusetts Pain Initiative. She delivered this speech in Washington, D.C., in November 2009 when receiving a Presidential Commendation from the APF for her outstanding efforts to improve pain management and treatment for the more than 76 million Americans who are living in chronic pain.
I deeply thank the members of the committee who chose me for this award.
I view this award as not about me because there are many worthy and dedicated pain advocates among you in this room.
It’s about the work all of us are doing together to change the way people in pain are treated in America today. It’s about the fact that I have learned from my experience as a pain advocate these past nearly 10 years, as banal as it sounds, that any one person can truly make a difference at a local, state and even national level.
I like when Mary Bennett, the Director of Grassroots Advocacy for APF, refers to our work as a “movement” so I thought why not borrow from the greatest movement speech of all time…
I have a dream that one day in America chronic pain will be viewed as an illness, not a symptom or a stigma.
I have a dream that people in pain will be listened to and believed, not treated as drug seekers or “doctor shoppers”.
I have a dream that all Americans in pain will have access to the most effective, multi-modal treatments for their pain conditions.
I have a dream that all healthcare providers who treat pain sufferers will be educated in their professional schools and through continuing education on the latest techniques of pain assessment and treatment.
I have a dream that hundreds of millions not a few million dollars will be directed at unlocking the basic mechanisms of pain in the human body.
I have a dream that we will one day find a cure for chronic pain and, why not?
This is my hope.
So let’s go back to California and Utah and Connecticut and New York and continue together, the great work that APF staff and Board and each of you here are doing to realize these dreams so that one day all Americans who suffer with debilitating chronic pain will instead enjoy an excellent quality of life.
Thank you again for this honor.