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Last month, the Chronic Disease Coalition launched our Ambassador program with the help of 17 active advocates in states across the nation. From lupus to kidney disease to diabetes, our Ambassadors battle and represent a wide range of chronic health conditions. The CDC’s Ambassadors have a passion for advocacy and are dedicated to raising awareness and fighting discriminatory policies that prevent patients from getting the treatment and care they need. We look forward to putting the spotlight on additional advocates in the coming months. To start, we’d like to introduce three Chronic Disease Coalition Ambassadors. 1. Amy Sparks

Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) almost 16 years ago, Amy Sparks currently lives in North Carolina with her family. Sparks is a successful career woman, mother and advocate, and she publishes a blog called Reinvent Chronic.

There is no cure for MS, but that does not discourage Sparks, who continually fights for herself and for other chronic disease patients.

“If I'm not willing to stand up for myself, how can I expect anyone else to? There are so many things that having MS can stop me from doing, but I can still speak up,” said Sparks. “I still have a voice that matters. I still matter.”

You can read more about Amy Sparks here.

2. Marisa Troy

Sharing your story can be difficult, but it can have a profound impact on those around you – and even yourself. Marisa Troy found this to be true after sharing her battle with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) on Facebook in 2012.

“It was like coming out of the closet,” notes Troy. “There was such an amazing outpouring of love and support. It really inspired me. I started writing down my thoughts and experiences with IBD and began posting them on a blog, sometimes multiple time a day.”

You can read more about IBD on Marisa Troy’s blog and learn about her story in a patient advocate spotlight on our website.

3. Tamra Morse

Tamra Morse is familiar with pain, having battled rheumatoid arthritis (RA) for over 40 years before she was even diagnosed. Like many patients, Morse has experienced difficulty getting others to understand she is battling an invisible illness.

“Many times after parking in a handicap space with an appropriate placard, I’ve been told, ‘You don’t look sick,’” explains Morse. “I used to explain that I’m fighting rheumatoid arthritis, but I don’t do that anymore.”

Tamra Morse is an active voice in the pain community, and you can read more about her story here.

Many of our ambassadors started their journey by sharing their story, and we encourage those interested in advocacy do the same. Every voice matters in the fight for patients’ rights!