FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN TAKING THE LEAD IN ADVOCATING FOR THOSE WITH MIGRAINE AND OTHER AND HEADACHE DISORDERS
Written By Peggy Artman
Originally seen on MigraineHeadacheAwarenessMonth.org
Migraine and other headache disorders can begin well before adulthood. For Robert Pushis, his migraine attacks started at the age of seven. Robert had symptoms of migraine that included aura, head pain, nausea, vomiting, and dry heaves. As if the migraine attacks were not bad enough, Robert was bullied in school because his peers thought he looked fine. His migraine attacks were very disabling, which caused him to miss a lot of school. His family sought treatment for his migraine attacks and tried everything they could starting at seven years old, but nothing helped. They were living in Indiana at that time.
One of the neurologists Robert saw while living in Indiana suggested that Robert’s headaches may be triggered by barometric pressure. Mrs. Pushis had a barometer app on her phone so she could track the weather. The family went on a trip to the Gulf coast in 2016 to test this theory and discovered that it was true. Robert felt much better in the south. Mr. Pushis works for a large steel mill company and they had a mill in Columbus, Mississippi. In 2017 the Pushis family went on another vacation to the Gulf coast to continue the test and found that Robert was again having almost no migraine attacks. Mr. Pushis was transferred to work at one of the company’s mills in Mississippi. Even though it was a difficult move, the Plushis family moved to Mississippi in 2017. Robert rarely had a migraine attack after moving to Mississippi. It seemed that when they were in the deep south, Robert felt his best.
After Robert started feeling better, Hailey (15) and Robert (17) have accomplished quite a lot. Hailey felt inspired to advocate for migraine disease because she admired her older brother. They petitioned the Governor of Mississippi in 2018, 2019, and 2020 to make June Migraine Awareness month in the state of Mississippi. Their petition was granted each year and in 2019 the family was invited to visit the governor to discuss migraine disease. The family also participated in Headache on the Hill in February 2020 to represent the state of Mississippi. They met with senators and representatives to ask them to support more funding for migraine research and the need for more Migraine and Headache specialists.
Also, in 2019 Robert and Hailey worked with the United Way to spearhead the first migraine awareness walk in Columbus, MS and had over 300 participants. The name of that walk was called “Walk a Mile in My Shoes.” She also participated in the 2019 Miles for Migraine event in Ridgeland, MS. At this event, Hailey was given the Honorary Migraine Warrior award for her advocacy work and was also the speaker before the race. In 2020, the event was virtual but Hailey also participated.
Hailey searched for an organization she could partner with to continue advocacy and found the Association of Migraine Disorders (AMD.) This organization seemed like a perfect fit for Hailey and Robert in their advocacy efforts. With the assistance of the AMD, Hailey and Robert started a local chapter of AMD’s Migraine Club program. AMD provided materials, resources, topic discussions, and support for having the meetings.
Hailey had been participating in beauty pageants since childhood. She still participates in these events, using migraine awareness as her platform. In 2018, Hailey held the title of Miss Natchez Trace’s Outstanding Teen. In 2019 Hailey, held the title of Miss All-America City’s Outstanding Teen. These titles were with the Miss America’s Scholarship Organization and are part of the Miss America franchise. Hailey’s current title is in the 2020 USA National Miss Mississippi Junior Teen. In all of these pageants, migraine advocacy is Hailey’s platform.
The Today Show had a series on Migraine disease in 2018. The Pushis family all went to New York City to participate along with the Association of Migraine Disorders. They were not interviewed on television, but were there to support World Migraine Solidarity Day supporting Shades for Migraine. Then in 2020, Good Morning America hosted a segment called “Migraine Mystery.” It was reported on by Robin Roberts. A crew of people from Good Morning America came to their home in Columbus, MS to do an interview. There was a feature on Good Morning America showing the interview on Mrs. Pushis.
Hailey won the Migraine Advocate of the Year award and will be presented that award at the 2020 Migraine Symposium in Providence, RI which will is scheduled to take place on August 29, 2020. Hailey and Robert continue to advocate for migraine disorders to reduce stigma and educate the public.