13-year old Madelin talks migraine, advocacy and staying positive through it all

Madelin Kimberlin received a diagnosis of migraine with aura in 2018, a few months after her first attack. Since being diagnosed, 13-year old Madelin has learned to manage her migraine while staying positive. She spoke with the American Migraine Foundation about living with the disease, staying on track with her schoolwork and the importance of raising awareness. Read on to hear her story and advice for other kids living with migraine.

Learning to live with migraine

Since her first migraine attack, Madelin has learned to make changes to her plans and habits as a result of living with the disease. “I have had to adjust many aspects of my life like missing school and doing things with my family and friends,” Madelin says. She missed her last elementary school play along with several junior high volleyball practices and games due to migraine.

Her family and faith are instrumental in helping her manage the disease and the feelings that come with it. “I would ask my mom, ‘Why does it have to be me?’ and she would say, ‘God only gives you what you can handle,’ and that has shown me that I can get through anything,” she says. Additionally, Madelin has learned to manage the onset of her own symptoms by slowing down and practicing deep breathing before informing the nearest adult of an impending migraine attack.

Madelin believes those with migraine shouldn’t let the disease get in the way of living their lives. “Do not let migraine be in control. You are in control of what you do with your life,” she says.

Managing middle school with accommodations

Despite having to miss school, Madelin remains positive about managing her symptoms. Her parents worked with school officials to create a 504 plan that supported her learning and informed her teachers about her migraine. A 504 plan is a document created for a student with disabilities that requires schools to provide accommodations specifically tailored to that student’s needs—for instance, allowing students to wear sunglasses inside, take breaks during testing or trips to the nurse’s office to lie down or have their medication administered at school. A pediatric migraine action plan, or PedMAP, can also be useful in outlining the steps to take when faced with an attack at school.

These accommodations and resources help her stay on top of school work, even after missing days at school. “My teachers have been very understanding when I’m absent and help me to get caught up,” Madelin says.

Taking steps for advocacy

For Madelin, the next step of living with migraine is doing something about it. She is already taking steps to raise awareness. Madelin first reached out to the American Migraine Foundation about her idea to raise awareness of migraine with jewelry. She would then donate the dollars raised back to the Foundation.

“I want people to know that not everything people deal with is on the outside. You can’t always see things that interrupt people’s lives,” she says. This motivates her to advocate for those with migraine and inform the world about the disease. “Just because you don’t see it, it does not mean it is not there,“ she explains.

She wants other kids and adults with migraine to not give up hope. “There is light at the end of the tunnel and there are people you can go to talk to and things you can do to help,” Madelin says.

To learn more about managing pediatric migraine, check out the American Migraine Foundation’s Pediatric Migraine Resource Hub. For help finding a specialist in your area, try our Find a Doctor tool.