Changing the Conversation on Chronic Illness & Disability

Moderators:
Molly Strole | Thermo Fisher Scientific - Women’s ERG
Patricia Hoekman | Thermo Fisher Scientific - Possibilities ERG

Guest Speaker:
Erik Runnels | Survivor of FSGS
Gabe Forbes | Diagnosed with hemophilia at birth

 

As part of Thermo Fisher Scientific's efforts to shine a light on the patient experience, The LA Chapter of the Women’s Employee Resource Group organized this webinar to discuss the common challenges, biases, and misconceptions that those with a chronic illness or disability often face.

In this interview, Gabe recalls camping as a child and dealing with extreme fatigue while trying to also maintain a strict kidney-friendly diet that complied with his dialysis regimen. One delicious slip lands him in the hospital with congestive heart failure. He also recounts his monthly blood transfusions for anemia treatment and recalls many children at that time contracted AIDS from transfusions. Now there are medicines and synthetic hormones that help make life more manageable. Gabe said, "So there's tons and tons of advances, but the upshot is that it's still a difficult life for a lot of people. I've been very lucky... It's amazing watching all the technological changes." View the video to see how much technology has evolved since Gabe first began his treatments.

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Gabe and Eric will be launching "This Sick Life" podcast where guest speakers will explore topics about living with chronic illness.

 

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About Our Panelists

Erik Runnels
Diagnosed at age five with Focal Segmental Glomeruli Sclerosis (FSGS), Erik is a four-time kidney transplant recipient and the longest ever survivor of FSGS. A storyteller at heart, Erik dabbled in a television-writing career before launching a career in law. He is now a practicing patent lawyer.

Gabe Forbes
The second child in a family of eight, Gabe was diagnosed with hemophilia at birth, the same disease three of his brothers also carry. An avid chess player and life-long athlete, Gabe has also co-authored multiple journal articles in medical periodicals such as Blood Advances. He is currently in his first year of medical school at Case Western.

Eric and Gabe
Together, Erik and Gabe are launching a podcast called “This Sick Life” in January 2020, in which they’ll explore what it’s like to live with a chronic illness or disability by interviewing doctors, patients, parents, politicians, Pulitzer Prize winners, religious leaders, and even Hollywood producers.

Patricia Hoekman
The moderator for this event is Patricia Hoekman, the Carlsbad Chapter Co-lead for the possAbilities Employee Resource Group. PossAbilities is committed to making Thermo Fisher Scientific one of the world's most admired companies by promoting an awareness and understanding of employees with differing abilities, and providing support for them, their families and the community. The group is not just for employees who identify as a Person with Disabilities –– it also serves as a way to engage disability allies, helping ensure we build an inclusive workforce that celebrates the rich diversity within our company.