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Myelopathy Support

Tammy Blizzard is a veterinarian, graduating from the University of Illinois in 1999.  She worked at various small animal practices in North Carolina and Pennsylvania for 15 years when she rapidly went downhill with myelopathy symptoms.  From normal legs to almost in a wheelchair due to spasticity and poor gait in 6 weeks, Tammy had C3-6 fused in December 2014.  Although she attempted to return to work, the damage was done and she left her job in July 2015.

While collecting cats in her down time with myelopathy – she’s only up to four but needs to stop – Tammy has been focusing on finding the good in her diagnosis and trying to share those benefits with others.  She enjoys being the voice of reason while helping those out on the “Myelopathy Support” group.  She also started a Facebook group called “Moving on with Myelopathy” in 2018, a group that was founded for those that have recovered from initial shock and hurdles with the diagnosis of myelopathy, and are attempting to move on with the new and bit different life that the symptoms of myelopathy has bestowed upon them.  

In addition to Facebook admin duties helping others cope with chronic illness, Tammy started fall of 2019 at Penn State University as a teaching assistant, grading an Animal Science class from the comfort of home while hanging out with her cats and dog.  She is grateful to have found new fulfilment that allows for myelopathy limitations, while making the most of life with her husband and two teenagers.

Margot Miller is an American artist born in Woodmont, Connecticut. U.S although now lives in USA. As well as being a fantastic oil painter Margot is also a CSM patient and long-time sufferer. Before Margot was diagnosed with myelopathy she was a Real Estate developer and a professional photographer. However, after the loss of the use of her left arm she turned to painting.

The Miller Studio, Margot’s company, as well as showing their work are also involved in a number of charity project. The Miller Studio has raised money for ALS research and also runs the Art for Comfort Project, which is a free program where art is installed in homes, hospices and hospitals to help comfort the people who are suffering. Then, after talking with Iwan Sadler, Margot decided to start to raise money for Myelopathy Research through the sales of original art work and prints with the proceeds going to Myelopathy.org. At Miller Studio she hopes that they can help Myelopathy.org again through art sales.

Margot joined Myelopathy.org in 2017 as one of the moderators in the Facebook Myelopathy Support group set up by Iwan Sadler and she is happy to be part of the team at Myelopathy.org.

Shirley was an oncology-trained Registered General Nurse of nearly 20 years, 13 of those spent specialising in haematology. She has previously worked as a Home Help and also as First Aid Trainer to Year 6 children as part of the nationwide Injury Minimisation Programme for Schools (IMPS) scheme at her local Accident and Emergency department. She also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology which she completed with the Open University, graduating in 2013.

Shirley was diagnosed with Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy in 2012 and underwent a C6/C7 Anterior Cervical Discectomy with Fusion (ACDF) and found, after surgery, that support for people like her was non-existent and felt she was left to cope very much on her own, which she thought was unacceptable.

She started blogging about her experiences in 2015 via “Myelopathy Matters” http://myelopathicme.blogspot.com in order to make sense of her situation. Soon after she completed a questionnaire for Myelopathy.org that she found online and, as a consequence, was invited to the very first patient CSM day at the University of Cambridge in 2016 where she met the rest of the team.

Shirley then joined the Myelopathy Support Facebook group, firstly as a member and then became an admin in 2016 and has been a vital part of the admin team since.

She is passionate about raising awareness of disability issues, in particular equitable accessibility and signposting folk to social security and benefits advice as she has been through the process several times herself, up to and including tribunal level. She also assists others in her spare time with their own claims and is an ardent anti-poverty campaigner.

More recently she assisted Myelopathy.org to host their first ever exhibition stand. The opportunity to network with neurology and neurological health professionals was exciting, rewarding and invaluable in raising the profile of Myelopathy.org nationally, so that people with myelopathy and their supporters have finally somewhere to go for help and support, reducing the sense of isolation and grief that having myelopathy can cause.

Whilst she is no longer able to work due to permanent disability, she believes it is vital that people know that, despite having myelopathy, you can still lead a useful, productive fulfilling life, which is why Shirley is committed to raising awareness in order to improve the outlook for everyone affected by myelopathy both now and in the future.