Arizona Trail for Fibromyalgia

800 miles across Arizona to raise awareness for Fibromyalgia

Press

Tucson Citizen article 05/06/09

 

May 06, 2009, 5:42 p.m.

TY BOWERS
Tucson Citizen

When she set out to hike the 800-mile Arizona Trail last spring, Sirena Dufault worried that she might not finish.

 

The daunting trail stretches from Utah to the U.S.-Mexico border.

 

Dufault's concern stemmed from her decade-long battle with fibromyalgia, a little-understood chronic pain disorder.

 

"I was a little hestitant to publicize it because I didn't know how far I could go," Dufault said this week. "Now I can comfortably do a 15-mile day with a big pack, no problem."

 

Next Tuesday — on national Fibromyalgia Awareness Day — the 35-year-old will make a final, eight-mile hike north of Oracle to complete the trail, trudging from the Tiger Mine Trailhead to the American Flag Trailhead.

 

Dufault kept an online journal throughout her trek, which she made mostly by herself in one- to five-day trips. The May 12 leg marks the 80th day Dufault has spent on the trail.

 

She hopes her success will inspire the 10 million Americans suffering from the disorder, Dufault said. "There's not a whole lot of positive information out there about people getting their lives back after fibromyalgia."

 

Fibromyalgia's many symptoms include chronic, widespread body pain, according to the National Fibromyalgia Association. Symptoms can stem from an acute illness or injury, as in Dufault's case. Her diagnosis came in 1998, a year after she was hit by a car as she crossed a street. For months afterward, even as her initial injuries healed, Dufault's pain and fatigue worsened.

 

"I saw her probably at her worse," said Angi Edge, a nurse and massage therapist who treated Dufault after her diagnosis and became a fast friend. "So many people give up on themselves. They become their disease. She was just not going to give up."

 

Dufault's pain has not flaired up in a major way in the last three years, she said. "I attribute that to being very, very active."

 

For her next big adventure, Dufault might hike the Tonto Trail in the Grand Canyon.

 

She walked 25 miles of the 90-mile trail this past winter.

 

 

PRESS RELEASE

 Arizona Woman with Chronic Pain Eight Miles Away from Completing Fibromyalgia Awareness Hike on the 800-mile Arizona Trail

 

Tucson, AZ- May 5, 2009- In February 2008, Sirena Dufault began hiking the Arizona Trail, an 800-mile trail that crosses Arizona from its border with Mexico to the border with Utah. Now, Dufault, 35, has only eight miles left to go. She is hiking the trail to raise awareness for Fibromyalgia, a complex chronic pain disorder that affects an estimated 10 million Americans. Sirena developed post-traumatic fibromyalgia following an accident in 1997 in which she was hit by a car while walking across the street. The pain and fatigue worsened, resulting in her being bedridden for several months. Dufault began walking as a form of gentle exercise following her fibromyalgia diagnosis in 1998, and very gradually worked up to longer and longer hikes.

Dufault enjoyed the physical benefits of hiking so much that she decided to take on the 800-mile Arizona Trail. She is hiking to raise awareness for Fibromyalgia and is donating all proceeds from the hike to the National Fibromyalgia Association. “This experience has been so rewarding and has given me a deep appreciation for the diverse beauty found in the state of Arizona.” said Dufault. “And day after day of hiking, I found out that I am so much stronger than I ever dreamed possible. I want others with fibromyalgia to know that there is hope after the diagnosis.”

Dufault has hiked most of the trail solo in one- to five-day segments, but on May 12, Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, Sirena will complete the final eight miles of the Arizona Trail with a group of supporters. They will start out at the Tiger Mine Trailhead north of Oracle at 7 am and hike south to the American Flag Trailhead, arriving around 11 am. “I conceived the idea of hiking the Arizona Trail at this spot in May 2007,” says Dufault, “so it’s fitting that my hike ends here.” To see Sirena’s blog, pictures, and videos from the trail as well as to make a donation, visit her website Arizona Trail for Fibromyalgia at www.aztrail4fms.org.

 

Contact: Sirena Dufault                                           

aztrail4fms@live.com


 

Sierra Vista Herald article 7/03/08

 

Fitness Plus- June 2008

 

Oro Valley/Marana Magazine  

 

See the Tucson Citizen article from 3/13/08  

 

PRESS RELEASE

March 10, 2008

                              

Arizona Woman with Chronic Pain Disorder to

Hike 800 Miles to Raise Awareness

 

(TUCSON, ARIZ.)Sirena Dufault, who 10 years ago spent most of her days in bed because of pain and fatigue, has chosen an extreme way to get her message out. This month, the Tucson, Arizona resident, who suffers from a chronic pain disorder called fibromyalgia, will begin an 800-mile hike along the Arizona Trail.

 

“One of my goals with this hike is to educate people about fibromyalgia, and give people an idea of what it is like to deal with a chronic pain condition,” says Dufault. “Even though I am well enough to do a hike of this length, fibromyalgia affects everyone who has it in a different way.”

 

Dufault was hit by a car while walking across a street in January 1997 during her final semester at University of Arizona. Though no bones were broken, she suffered from intense muscle pain, jaw problems and fatigue following the accident. Rather than improving over time, her symptoms worsened. At age 24, she was diagnosed with post-traumatic fibromyalgia, a complex chronic pain disorder that affects an estimated 10 million Americans.

 

Dufault began walking about a year after her accident as a way to get some gentle exercise. Later, she started hiking easy trails and eventually, in 2002, she took her first backpacking trip. On March 13 at 1 p.m., Dufault will kickoff her 800-mile Arizona Trail to raise awareness for fibromyalgia at Colossal Cave Mountain Park, and finish at the border of Arizona and Utah approximately three months later. To track her progress, visit her website listed below for trail journal/blog entries, pictures and videos.

 

Proceeds raised from the awareness walk will be donated to the National Fibromyalgia Association, a national nonprofit organization located in Orange County, Calif. that is dedicated to decreasing the burden of the disorder through education, research and patient advocacy. For more information on Dufault’s awareness campaign, visit www.aztrail4fms.org.

 

Article by Bonnie Henry in the Arizona Daily Star from Sunday, February 10th. Go to my trail journal/blog for  February 16th to read a text-only version.

The article is in three parts: 


Main story

http://www.azstarnet.com/accent/224081

Arizona Trail info

http://www.azstarnet.com/accent/224080

Fibromyalgia info

http://www.azstarnet.com/accent/224074

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