It was ultimately a trip to the gym that led to Therese Lane becoming involved with the Chronic Pain Network, though you could say her life had been leading her towards a path of helping others for much longer.
Born and raised in Wales, UK, she graduated school as a registered nurse but decided to take a year off to travel, which ultimately brought her to Canada, in 1981, to work as a nanny. She settled in Toronto, became a mother to a beautiful little boy, and then made the choice to go back to school, when he was three, to complete her BSc in Nursing in order to be able to work as a nurse in Canada.
Life, however, does not always go according to plan. Having been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Childhood Arthritis at the age of 13, Therese experienced a period of depression that ultimately resulted in the need to leave nursing and have her parents take on the care of her son. The devastation of these losses caused her to further spiral into depression, and she ended up spending the next five years living on the street, resorting to the use of illegal drugs to mask her physical and emotional pain.
Later in life, her previous drug use would be a major obstacle in getting adequate treatment for her worsening conditions. “I was fortunate to finally find a doctor who validated me as a person, and didn’t see me as a just former addict who wanted medication to take away my problems,” said Therese.
She started on a Methadone pain regime and was introduced to mindful meditation and began exercising every day. Therese didn’t just want pain relief, she wanted to live a productive life. For her, daily exercise and developing a routine helped her to do this. Through joining a gym, she met more people and began to try new approaches.
It was a trip to the gym that led to her meeting Jennifer Stinson, a Principal Applicant with the Chronic Pain Network, known internationally for her innovative work in child and adolescent pain research. A casual conversation saw Therese mention the challenges of living with chronic pain, and the rest is history. Jennifer’s passion and inclusion of patients in her work drew Therese in and inspired her. She, too, wanted to contribute to a solution, which is how she found herself involved with the Chronic Pain Network.
“Since becoming involved with the Chronic Pain Network, I have met some of the greatest minds in pain research and some of the most dedicated and determined people living with pain,” said Therese. And Therese knows a thing or two about great minds - she happens to be a member of MENSA. “Together, these groups are capable of achieving any goal possible. I may be biased,” she added, “but I think that the Chronic Pain Network is a major pioneer in Patient Engagement in research.”
Therese sits on the Chronic Pain Network’s Patient Engagement committee. “Being a part of the Chronic Pain Network has been a positive learning experience,” she said. “I have gained confidence in myself and have been inspired beyond my imagination by the strength and conviction from the members of the Network.”
“I think it’s vital, going forward, that the work achieved so far continues to grow so that it can inspired more researchers and people with lived experience in pain to continue to step outside of their comfort zones,” said Therese. “Researchers have the scientific expertise and ‘patients’ have expertise in lived experience. Pain research can only benefit when these two areas come together and share ideas.”
Therese will be co-leading the Chronic Pain Network's July Patient EngagEment in Research (PEER) webinar on July 30th, 1 pm ET. PEER webinars are geared towards trainees, but all are welcome You can register here.