Bringing Migraine Out of the Shadows

How a simple donation showed one migraine patient the power of Ashley Razook’s migraine story

Ashley Razook remembers the beginning of her life with migraine to the very day: February 21, 2005. Then a college sophomore, she woke up with a severe headache.  Her school’s student health center referred her to the hospital, and she spent a week there. After getting a referral to a neurologist, her follow-up appointment ended with a diagnosis: migraine.

Adjusting to a smaller life with migraine

Ashley saw her full, vibrant life start to change, despite her best efforts to maintain her normal pace. She graduated from college and found her first job. But then she spent her days with her head down on her desk or missing work for various medical appointments. Instead of traveling for pleasure, she attended inpatient programs around the country and had multiple procedures in search of relief. At 23, she moved back home with her family in Texas.

“My world, which had been really big and full and active, grew very small and very isolating,” Ashley says. “I was watching my peers get accepted to graduate school, get married and have children while I was just fighting to gain some control of my life and my health.” Her fight became lonely, as many did not understand the magnitude of migraine and the loss associated with it. This was despite the support of her loved ones.

“It affects every aspect of my life,” she says. “Its presence is certain, but its level of daily interference is unpredictable.”

A donation that changed everything

Ashley Razook grew private about her migraine journey, mainly to help make other people feel comfortable with her pain. But then her close friend witnessed an attack. He saw how her symptoms disabled her and expressed shock to learn all that Ashley had endured. Ashley’s friend wanted to help support ongoing migraine research and awareness efforts. So he made a donation to the American Migraine Foundation in her name. His generous donation prompted Ashley to learn more about the Foundation, where she came across the short film, “Picture Your Life Without Migraine.”

“It was a video that spoke to me as a patient, but also one that I could share with others in my life to help them better understand migraine,” she says.

That video and other AMF resources demonstrated to Ashley the power in sharing her migraine story. She went from hardly speaking about her migraine to sharing the video with her network to attending the Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy  Headache on the Hill 2020 with the Foundation to share her personal experience with her representatives. Attending the annual advocacy event allowed Ashley to meet other advocates and shine a light on migraine.

“Awareness for any disease is critical, but it is especially important for migraine because it is often invisible, or seen as ‘just a headache’,” Ashley says, explaining that the misunderstanding has an impact on social response.

The importance of speaking out and supporting migraine research

“A huge disparity exists between the level of disability migraine causes and the current level of research funding,” she says. “Anyone who experiences migraine or cares for someone who experiences migraine will tell you the loss associated with this disease is profound.”

As June is Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, Ashley Razook hopes that the community shares their stories and fosters a new level of understanding that is desperately needed to fight this disease. “When you donate to AMF, you are supporting migraine research and awareness efforts,” Ashley says, “For someone with migraine, this means you are giving them a chance to get their life back.”

Ashley’s migraine journey forever changed when her friend’s donation connected her to the American Migraine Foundation. Click here to donate on behalf of a loved one living with migraine and to help us support the more than 39 million Americans living with this disabling disease. Your donation makes a difference. If you live with migraine, consider sharing your story and putting a face on this invisible illness.