Nancy Harris Bonk is a patient advocate and educator who has
been helping patients empower themselves to take an active role in their health
care since 2003. Nancy experienced what she now knows were menstrually related
Migraines during puberty. Nancy was able to manage these with over the counter
medications for many years. On a cloudy December 9 morning in 1996, Nancy’s
life changed forever. She slipped and fell on a patch of black ice in her driveway,
hitting her head, hard. She had sustained a traumatic brain injury or TBI.
In addition to daily chronic head and neck pain and having Migraine
disease, Nancy lives with idiopathic intracranial hypertension, a cervical
spine fusion, depression, hypothyroidism, Raynaud’s phenomenon,
Sjogren’s syndrome and some autoimmune connective tissue disease. In tremendous
pain and still experiencing cognitive symptoms, Nancy went online to see if she could find some answers. Reaching out
to a number of online support groups, she met patient advocate Teri Robert who
at the time was the Headache and Migraine Guide at About.com. Nancy became an
active member of the discussion forum, and in 2005, she became a moderator
under Teri’s tutelage and guidance. From 2007 - 2013 Nancy was a Health Guide and Community Manager at Remedy Health Media's Migraine Community. In 2011 she began working at Migraine.com.
Nancy didn’t think of herself as being disabled, it never occurred to her to
file for Social Security Disability, SSDI. Before she applied for SSDI, she wanted
to make certain she was truly disabled. To convince herself, she took a
part-time job, which threw her into pain cycle that took weeks to break. When
the judge declared her “fully disabled” it wasn’t necessarily a happy moment,
just a necessary step in moving forward.
of 2011, in conjunction with the National Headache Foundation, Nancy started
the first, local support group for Migraine and headache sufferers in Western
New York - the Western New York Migraine and Headache Disorder Support Group. Nancy
continues to read, research and attend medical conferences to remain current in
Migraine and headache disorders. Nancy has also earned continuing education
hours in this area from the American Headache Society, the Annenberg Center for
Health Sciences and the Center for Health Care Education, the Penn State College of Medicine and the
Primary Care Network.
Supporting people with Migraine
and headache disorders is a privilege and honor for Nancy. She feels support,
compassion and understanding are vital components in health care. Nancy lives
in Western New York with her 18 year-old son and 23 year-old daughter Sarah.