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Lighting Up a Hidden World cover

1. eBook Edition
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  • Black & White
  • 516 pages
  • 7 x 10 inches

ME/CFS, Living with illness, Disease, Health care issues, Chronic illness, Medical conditions, Medical research

Lighting Up a Hidden World
CFS and ME
by Valerie Free

The onset can be fast and shocking or slow and insidious. It can happen to anyone at any age. A flu, a vaccination, or an infection can be the innocent beginnings to the potentially life-long and disabling illness called myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), which is more commonly known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or ME/CFS in North America.

In the mid 1980s, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) was called in by concerned doctors who were witnessing an influx of patients with a mysterious illness. Eventually the CDC labeled the condition “chronic fatigue syndrome” which turned out to be very misleading. Decades later, in 2016, health agencies are finally beginning to agree with international experts that ME/CFS is a serious, chronic, multi-system illness.

Through artwork, poetry, story-telling, and meticulous research, Lighting Up a Hidden World: CFS and ME takes readers into the fascinating, yet frightening, landscape of ME/CFS. Author Valerie Free shares her personal experiences and delivers illuminating first-hand perspectives from patients, caregivers, journalists, and medical professionals from within the global community in short easy-to-read segments. These stories reveal the disgrace, controversy, and tragedy of worldwide neglect by political and health care systems, leaving ME/CFS research underfunded and millions of people marginalized, sick, and socially unsupported.

Lighting Up a Hidden World: CFS and ME advocates for those too ill to speak out, abounds with patient resources, and offers realistic hope for the future. People living with this illness, along with their family and friends, will find compassion and camaraderie in its pages. This book reaches beyond the ME/CFS community exposing the themes of human suffering, resilience, and the need for social change.

“I expect this book to have a worldwide impact.”

- Foreword by Toni Bernhard

Author of How to Live Well with Chronic Pain and Illness

Valerie Free photo

In 1990, Valerie Free was a happy, vibrant thirty-year-old woman – a court stenographer, a loving wife, and the mother of a precious baby girl. In July of that year, she came down with a sudden, flu-like illness, and after months of unrelenting and bizarre symptoms, was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), later to be understood as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) or ME/CFS. Valerie had entered a world that she could never have imagined, a world she still lives in to this day. Despite the challenges posed by her health, she went on to search for answers. Lighting Up a Hidden World: CFS and ME is the result, involving decades of research and outreach to the chronic illness community. Her natural curiosity, her love of people – as well as her interest in storytelling for social change – have allowed her to write this in-depth investigation into this mysterious illness. Valerie resides on an acreage with her family in Alberta, Canada.


Valerie Free

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