Heading off to watch Beauty and the Beast?

After months of waiting, the live-action adaptation of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is finally showing in cinemas. Moviegoers are expected to troop to Cardiff cinemas this weekend, especially families with young kids.

beauty

Of course, who wouldn’t right? It’s the ultimate tale as old as time after all!

Unfortunately, there are a number of people who will not be able to watch this highly anticipated movie. And it’s not because they don’t like it. They just simply can’t.

Sian (not her real name) was ten years old when she watched the 1991 Disney animated version. “She absolutely loved it,” her mom recalls. “I still remember the day we brought her to the cinema. She had a fantastic time.”

Now at 25, Sian will not be able to watch the live-action remake of her beloved Disney movie. She stays in her room all the time, unable to get up from bed. She suffers from extreme Myalgic Encephalomyelitis or M.E.

The UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence says that M.E., also called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), is characterised by debilitating tiredness that is unlike everyday fatigue and can be triggered by minimal activity. According to the National Health Service, 250,000 British nationals are suffering from the disease. Globally, 17 million people are afflicted with the illness.

Sian and other M.E. sufferers like her are oftentimes called the “missing people.” This is because they miss out on life and experiences. They spend days, weeks, months in bed due to long-term fatigue, unable to do things on their own.

invisible

“My daughter has always been an active person. She excelled in sports, got good grades and had a lot of friends. But M.E. slowly drained her zest for life,” Sian’s mom recounts. “Unexplained fatigue slowly overcame her and now she seems like a vegetable.”

While the disease has been recognized by the World Health Organisation, its exact cause is still unknown. What is known is that it can happen to ANYONE  — to you or to your loved ones. It is that scary.

Compounding the problem for M.E. patients is the lack of support in terms of research and health care. This is because the health sector seems divided on the issue. TED Fellow Jennifer Bree narrates in the video below her struggles in seeking treatment for her condition.

Evidence shows that it is possible for M.E. patients to recover from the illness. What is needed is an appropriate treatment plan and care. Dr. Charles Shepherd, a medical adviser of the M.E. Association, calls on doctors to listen to their patients and stop trivialising the disease. He also firmly believes in increased investment in biomedical research to develop needed treatments.

However, with most M.E. patients confined to their beds and incapable of speaking up for themselves, who can help amplify their silent cries for help?

Are you willing to help? Are you willing to give your time to #SpeakForME?

M.E. patients are counting on you to be their voice. Read up on the illness, advocate for its treatment, join fundraising activities!

After all, M.E. patients simply want to be as able as you are. With the freedom to walk, run and enjoy life to the fullest… As Belle said:

I want adventure in the great wide somewhere.

Engage and let me know your thoughts on how you can help M.E. patients in your own way…

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