Press Release

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Readers’ Favorite recognizes Take Back Your Life in its annual international book award contest.

The Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Contest featured thousands of contestants from over a dozen countries, ranging from new independent authors to NYT best-sellers and celebrities.

Readers’ Favorite is one of the largest book review and award contest sites on the Internet. They have earned the respect of renowned publishers like Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Harper Collins, and have received the “Best Websites for Authors” and “Honoring Excellence” awards from the Association of Independent Authors. They are also fully accredited by the BBB (A+ rating), which is a rarity among Book Review and Book Award Contest companies.

Readers’ Favorite receives thousands of entries from all over the world. Because of these large submission numbers, they are able to break down their contest into 140+ genres, and each genre is judged separately, ensuring that books only compete against books of their same genre for a fairer and more accurate competition. They receive submissions from independent authors, small publishers, and publishing giants such as Random House, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster, with contestants that range from the first-time, self-published author to New York Times bestsellers like J.A. Jance, James Rollins, and #1 best-selling author Daniel Silva, as well as celebrity authors like Jim Carrey (Bruce Almighty), Henry Winkler (Happy Days), and Eriq La Salle (E.R., Coming to America). “When the right books are picked as winners we pay attention. We will be spreading the word about Readers’ Favorite.” — Karen A., Editor for Penguin Random House

Readers’ Favorite is proud to announce that Take Back Your Life by Tami Stackelhouse won the Gold Medal in the Non-Fiction – Health – Medical category.

You can learn more about this award on the Readers’ Favorite review page where you can read a review of Take Back Your Life and the author’s biography, as well as connect with the author directly or through their website and social media pages.

Readers’ Favorite LLC
Media Relations
Louisville, KY 40202

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WEGO Health Awards 2017I am excited to announce that I have been nominated for the WEGO Health Award “Advocating for Another” in the 6th Annual WEGO Health Awards.

WEGO Health is a mission-driven company connecting healthcare with the experience, skills, and insights of patient leaders. They are the world’s largest network of patient leaders, working across virtually all health conditions and topics. Click here to learn more about their Patient Leader Network.

The WEGO Health Awards were created to celebrate those who tirelessly support the mission of WEGO Health: empowering the patient voice. The WEGO Health Awards recognize over 100,000 inspiring patient leaders and advocates who raise awareness, share information, and support their communities — often without recognition. There are 16 award categories, with many names on the nominee list you’ll recognize! Be sure to endorse all your favorites, not just me. ;-)

WEGO Health Award “Advocating for Another”

The “Advocating for Another” award is my favorite. This award recognizes the work that patient leaders and advocates do on behalf of others. This is why I’m particularly honored to receive this nomination.

My personal mission truly is to change the lives of fibromyalgia patients all over the world. In 2013, I began working with doctors and advocates to change how fibromyalgia is treated in Oregon. (See Fibromyalgia Treatment Not Covered Under Oregon Health Plan.) I have been a regular panelist at Oregon Health & Science University speaking with their medical students on what life is really like for chronic pain patients. I’ve had the privilege of being interviewed for two different chronic pain documentaries (still in process) and have published two books on fibromyalgia (hint, these links will get you free copies of the ebooks!): Take Back Your Life: Find Hope and Freedom from Fibromyalgia Symptoms and Pain and The Fibromyalgia Coach: Feel Better, Change Lives, and Find Your Best Job Ever.

It is my mission to change the face of fibromyalgia in the world. I dream of the day when fibromyalgia patients can receive the care, support, and education needed to feel their best. Fibromyalgia doesn’t need to feel like the death sentence it is today. There is hope. You can feel better! All you need is someone to come alongside you. Someone to help you discover what works, what doesn’t, and get the treatment you need. This is exactly what a Fibromyalgia Coach does.

Patient Advocacy Summit & WEGO Health Awards

This year, the 16 WEGO Health Award winners will be honored at the 5th Annual Patient Advocacy Summit in Washington, DC October 23rd and 24th, 2017. Events like these have been an important part of my journey as a patient advocate and leader. Each conference builds my knowledge and network of colleagues and collaborators. As a fibromyalgia patients, we need to be as educated as possible about the policies affecting our care. We also need to know about medical research on our condition, possible treatment options, and where to find help. If you’d like more information about the summit, you can learn more here.




International Fibromyalgia Coaching InstituteI am very honored to introduce you to the third graduating class of the International Fibromyalgia Coaching Institute!

I highly recommend each Fibromyalgia Coach and Advisor on this list. If you are looking for someone to help you with your fibromyalgia diagnosis, please reach out to one of these lovely ladies. You can find out more about the work I’m doing training new Fibromyalgia Coaches and Advisors at

Meet the Newest Fibromyalgia Coaches and Advisors

Ceci Lebiecki (Argentina) is our first graduate from Argentina!

Ceci has always been passionate about helping people, especially women. She believes that the energy that women have, and the unique brightness that characterizes each, can be present in all. Regardless of the health condition, or the moment that the person is going through, it is always possible to be happy if you decide to be.

Ceci was born in Buenos Aires, where her days were very intense. She attended a prestigous school, took English classes, played guitar, had a love of dance and a large group of friends that were very close. Ceci majored in marketing and advertinsing, and had a very successful career at a young age. At the age of 25 she was Brand Manager in a major pharmaceutical company. At the age of 30, she was working in a dream company, with an important position and living her desire to have a “successful” life. It was at that time that she began to question herself. She wondered if that was really happiness …. And when she woke up, she developed Fibromyalgia.

Ceci was diagnosed with fibromyalgia after almost a year. She traveled around the world in search of answers. She went to a pain doctor, traumatologist, rheumatologist, psychiatrist, nutritionist, endocrinologist, orthopedist, ATM dentist. She tried acupuncture, tibetan medicine, ayurveda, homeopathy, Bach flowers, yoga, chiropractic, osteopathy, psychological therapy, and the list goes on…

On a very early Monday, almost without being able to walk, she introduced herself in Art of Living ONG. And with much effort she did a course of breathing and meditation techniques. At the end, something had changed. She traveled to India for two months to get an Ayurvedic treatment, and meditate. She became vegetarian, a lover of life in all its shapes. She began to like the avocado and strawberries. She returned to work in a manager position in a multinational company. She met her current husband, with whom she lives a great love. And she is immensely happy and knows you can be too.

Erin Reimer (Oregon) learned the importance of leaving a legacy of helping others from her father. Since his passing in 2008, Erin has dedicated herself to making the world a better place through her work at local and international non-profits and now as a personal coach. In addition to her Fibromyalgia Coaching Certification, Erin is a Certified Integrative Wellness and Life Coach through the Integrative Wellness Academy. Her coaching approach involves bringing balance to all four body systems, mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual in order to achieve wellness. Her desire is to help people with fibromyalgia, chronic pain and fatigue rediscover their passion for life through self-discovery, self-healing, and small life modifications.

Erin experienced being a fibromyalgia caregiver as a teenager when her mother was diagnosed with fibromyalgia at age 46. Erin herself was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome at age 22 and eventually fibromyalgia at 27. As a single young female she struggled to find peers who could understand her situation.

Six years after being diagnosed and experiencing very little improvement, Erin switched to functional medicine doctors that embraced complementary and alternative medicine and began working with her Fibromyalgia Advisor. Through these changes she has finally begun to thrive again. She decided to become a coach so she can help others follow in her footsteps to recovery.

Erin lives in Portland, Oregon with her two chubby tabby cats, Linus and Dexter. She is active in her local fibromyalgia and chronic pain support group and recently spoke on a panel about chronic pain at Oregon Health & Science University. When she is not coaching she likes to spend time with her family, attend gentle yoga classes and social meditation, go to Sunday brunch, and curl up with a good book with a purring cat on her lap.

Karen Brinklow, B.A., B.Ed., (Ontario, Canada) is our first Certified Fibromyalgia Advisor in Canada!

Karen helps women with fibromyalgia take control of their health and life. She brings years of business, teaching, and life experience to support her clients on their journey of recovery. Karen believes in and is eager to share the importance of stress management and self-care, and the benefits that can be achieved by doing so. Karen understands her clients’ needs from her own struggles with fibromyalgia and major depression and her challenges toward recovery. Karen is particularly passionate about the effects of chronic stress both in the workplace and life and the harm that it does to individuals and families. Karen is looking forward to helping you be the best “YOU” can be.

Karen Gerhardi (South Africa) is our first Certified Fibromyalgia Advisor in South Africa! 

Karen experienced pain in her legs from an early age but was only diagnosed with fibromyalgia in her late twenties. After years of not listening to her body, it finally spoke clearly enough for her to hear. It took a few years of trial and error for Karen to find the solutions that worked for her. She believes that she can help people find their solutions sooner.

Strangers have always felt very comfortable confiding their most personal issues to Karen and she finally realised that perhaps life was trying to tell her what she should do with her life and get the tools to ease others’ journeys.

Karen is a dog trainer and has learned that there is more than one way to look at a situation and that persevering and being open to new approaches will provide a solution. She’s also learned that positive reinforcement is just as important for people as it is for their dogs! Her principle role as a Fibromyalgia Advisor is to provide information and be a cheerleader.

Stacy Koch (Illinois) has had fibromyalgia for fifteen years. She has two teenagers: a son who is 17 and a daughter who is 13 years old. Stacy understands the difficulties that you have and the daunting task that it is to raise children with this condition. As a Certified Fibromyalgia Advisor and social worker, Stacy brings insight and tools that can help you grow and meet your goals. She offers a supportive atmosphere where you can feel comfortable embracing changes and taking back control of your life.
Tarvia Kelly (North Carolina) is a passionate Fibromyalgia Advisor who helps moms with pain learn to live life again. She has years of experience being the backbone of her family, having been a single parent for many years and a spouse of a active duty soldier who has deployed several times leaving her to hold down the fort.

Tarvia worked in the insurance industry for over 20 years dealing with Medical benefits, Claims, Auto, and Home. This knowledge is just another benefit for her clients. Her patience and transparency create a safe environment for healing. Tarvia knows she has truly found her purpose in life helping moms in pain take control of their lives by teaching them self care, motivation, and encouraging them one day at a time.


Join me on Tuesday, January 10, 2017 as I go LIVE with Norman Hanley from Men with Fibromyalgia. I’ll also have a special gift for everyone who is listening live!

I know my website is pretty “girly”… but men have fibromyalgia too! Norman is doing a fantastic job getting the word out on the fact that fibromyalgia isn’t “just a woman’s illness.” He has been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Osteoarthritis, Migraines, and Cluster Headaches, along with other chronic pain issues. Norman shares his journey and that of other men and their families on his website and in his Facebook support group, to educate and inspire others who are dealing with similar health issues.

RSVP for this special Facebook Live event!

Ravyn's Doll: How to Explain Fibromyalgia to Your ChildHave you ever struggled with how to explain fibromyalgia to the children in your life? Maybe they are your own kids, or grandkids, or maybe they are students or nieces and nephews.

Ravyn’s Doll: How to Explain Fibromyalgia to Your Child is written by Certified Fibromyalgia Advisor Melissa Swanson. She is a graduate of my first training program and a close friend. I had the privilege of watching the development of this book, and talking with Melissa about her dreams before it was ever written. I couldn’t be more proud of her and how her book turned out. Ravyn’s Doll is visually stunning and also emotionally powerful.

Ravyn’s Doll is one of the best resources I’ve ever found to help explain fibromyalgia in a way that young children can understand. It can be used in a very interactive way that will bring kids into what might have been a difficult conversation otherwise. As a coach, I often talk with clients who are struggling with how to explain fibromyalgia to the children in their lives. Even if they don’t have small children living at home, there are always young ones around: grandchildren, students, nieces and nephews, and so on. I believe that this book is the answer to their struggle.

The beauty of Ravyn’s Doll is that you can recreate the story in your own interactive projects, creating and decorating paper dolls to illustrate any illness, invisible or visible. I believe that Ravyn’s Doll, and the paper doll project in the story, should be used with every child, in every classroom. This will help our children be more understanding of people who have different needs than they do — which will help them to grow up to be more understanding adults. I often have clients who wish there was something like this for the adults in their lives. I say we start here, and raise up a new generation who is understanding of those who live with illnesses, visible and invisible, acute and chronic. This book is a required resource for my coaching students.

I really do think that everyone should own a copy of this book. I know that’s a pretty bold statement, but it’s true. This book may be about fibromyalgia, but it teaches so much more. It teaches children to look beyond the surface to be understanding of invisible illnesses. The lessons in this book apply to things like migraines, diabetes, depression, and so much more. If you have young people in your life, you need to read this book with them. And gift this book to anyone you know who has young ones too. It’s good for family members, teachers, physicians, and more.

About Ravyn’s Doll

All the kids in class made paper dolls to show someone they love who is hurt or sick. When it’s Ravyn’s turn to share, she shows a paper doll of her mom — and it looks like there is nothing wrong!

Ravyn teaches the class that even though her mom looks healthy, she’s not! Ravyn’s mom suffers from fibromyalgia and its evil sidekicks. Ravyn’s Doll is a simple and effective way to explain fibromyalgia to your child. In a way that is understandable to children. it shows that not all illnesses are visible and explains how living with an invisible illness affects families’ daily lives. Ravyn’s Doll describes and illustrates why mom or dad can’t do the things they used to do — things that other moms, dads or other family members can do.

Other Resources Contained within the book are internet sites and books to read to learn more about Fibromyalgia and other Invisible illnesses, such as Lupus, Lyme Disease, ME, CFS, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, chronic migraine, and others.

You can purchase Ravyn’s Doll on Amazon here as both a paperback and an ebook.

Update 5/8/18 — Ravyn’s Doll is also available on Amazon as a coloring book!

About Melissa

Melissa SwansonMelissa Swanson is a chronic pain patient, advocate, and author. Through her Fibro Warriors ~ Living Life Facebook page and blog, she offers positive encouragement, medical information, resources, and support to 18,000+ fibromyalgia and chronic pain patients.

I first met Melissa when we both attended the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association’s Leaders Against Pain Scholarship Training Program in October of 2014. We instantly hit it off. She was one of the first people to register for my new Fibromyalgia Coach / Advisor training program.

Ravyn’s Doll is named after her daughter, Ravyn. Which makes the mom in the story Melissa herself.

Melissa now works with clients as a Certified Fibromyalgia Advisor helping them learn tools to live with the chronic illness fibromyalgia. If you’re looking for a cheerleader to be in your corner with a little bit of “tough love” when needed, Melissa is the one for you. She understands the struggles of trying to balance family life and work while living with the challenges of fibromyalgia and its evil sidekicks.

To learn more about Melissa and Ravyn’s Doll, visit the Fibro Warriors ~ Living Life blog and listen to my interview with her below.