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Pageant a platform for Desiree Quinn to spotlight Fibromyalgia
Monday 16 January 2012
Desiree Quinn has never liked to be the center of attention, to strut around in high heels and an evening gown, but she's happily doing it now.
"I've never been someone who's like, 'Oh, I'm so beautiful. I need to be in a beauty pageant,'" the 35-year-old Vancouver resident said. "This is something that's way out of my comfort zone."
Quinn, the mother of two sons, was recently named Mrs. Clark County International. The title means she'll compete in the state pageant in March. More important to her, it allows her to raise awareness of fibromyalgia.
She was diagnosed with the disorder in 2002. The illness, which affects about 10 million Americans, causes her chronic pain through much of her body.
Quinn said when she's in pain, she's in a lot of it. It has taken a toll not only on her self-esteem, but also on her day-to-day life. She's become more anxious and sometimes flares up over things that wouldn't normally bother her.
"Prior to me having full-blown fibromyalgia, I was always a goer," she said.
After being diagnosed, she had to let go of a lot of things, including her career in the health care industry. Now she relies more on Matt, her husband of 12 years, for emotional support.
"I feel like when I talk to my husband, I'm usually complaining and trying to figure out how to deal with the kids, how to deal with life, and how to deal with the pain I'm in," Quinn said. "It can be extremely overwhelming. As mothers, we're trying to be the one who fixes everything. We don't like to be the complainer. We don't like to be the one who's leaning on others."
Her illness is treatable, but there's no cure.
"That's the reason I'm advocating for it. I've got a vested interest," she said. "I wanted to show people that just because you have this condition, it doesn't mean your life stops. You can still be a functioning member of society."
The Mrs. International pageants are quite different, with a different set of priorities, from the better-known Miss America competition. Lesley Nardini, executive director of Mrs. Oregon and Mrs. Washington International, said the main goal of the pageants is to give women opportunities for personal growth and to make a bigger difference in their communities. The Mrs. International pageants began 23 years ago for married women between 21 and 56 years of age.
Last September, Quinn was chosen to represent Clark County through a screening process.
"She sincerely wants to make a difference and use the title to help bring more attention to her cause," Nardini said. "That's a thing that's really important to us."
Quinn will be participating in the state pageant in March. The state title comes with a $10,000 award package and a chance to compete in the Mrs. International pageant in July in Chicago. Contestants will go through an interview and participate in evening-gown and fitness-wear competitions.
Aside from preparing for the state pageant, Quinn said she's already ramping up her efforts to promote her cause. She says there's one lesson she wants to impart above all others to people with fibromyalgia.
"We need to know that we can't expect doctors to take away our pain completely. We can expect them to take away the pain that's making our lives unbearable, but not completely," she said. "What this has taught me is that even with chronic pain, it's especially important to come out of your comfort zone and test your limits."
The above originally appeared here.
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