Woman finds support group at Community Market - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Woman finds support group at Community Market

Michele Toole, diagnosed with Chiari Malformation Michele Toole, diagnosed with Chiari Malformation
Phoebe Cooper-Wright, Conquer Chiari Representative Phoebe Cooper-Wright, Conquer Chiari Representative
An Albany woman, who was diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder, has found the support she's looking for. She just happened to stumble upon a support group while at the Tift Park Community Market.

 Michele Toole says it was fate when she saw the Chiari Malformation Awareness booth at the Tift Park Community Market. She's been longing for a support group since she was diagnosed with the rare disorder in 2008. 

 "When I walked up here this morning I saw the booth,” said Michele Toole, diagnosed with Chiari Malformation. “I've been searching since 2008 for a support group." 

 It's a neurological disorder affecting about 300,000 people in the U.S. The disorder causes headaches, neck pain and weakness. One of the ways to alleviate the pain is to have brain surgery. 

 "I was losing one to two pounds a day, I could not eat,” said Toole. “I could barely walk. I was not functioning well at all." 

Phoebe Cooper-Wright is a member of the Albany, Ga Conquer Chiari Walk Across America support group after her 7-year-old grandson, Thomas Cooper, was diagnosed with the disorder two years ago. He's undergone three surgeries in the last year, and has a shunt in his head to alleviate pressure off his brain. 

 "The big thing for him, he was able to go three days without any pain medication,” said Phoebe Cooper-Wright, Conquer Chiari Representative. “That was a big deal for us." 

 Now, Wright is preparing for their 2nd annual awareness walk in September. 

 "Our main goal is to raise awareness, so that when people hear Chiari, it's nothing new to them,” said Wright. 

 Toole says finding the support group is the comfort she needs to help her cope with the disorder. 

 "Because I've been searching for somebody that knew about it and that I could talk with, that understood and knew what I was going through,” said Toole.

 Governor Nathan Deal and Mayor Hubbard have both signed proclamations showing their support. The walk will be September 20th at Riverfront Park. Find out how to sign up by clicking here. Or contact Phoebe Cooper-Wright at 229-869-6825.

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