Women's Journal

Eileen Filliben Edmunds: From Pain to Advocacy

Eileen Filliben Edmunds: From Pain to Advocacy
Photo Courtesy: Eileen Filliben Edmunds

By: Joshua Finley

In the shadows of our healthcare system, millions suffer silently from chronic pain and other chronic health issues. Their struggles often go unnoticed by a society that cannot see their invisible wounds. Eileen Filliben Edmunds is one of those individuals, but her journey from despair to hope has transformed her into a powerful advocate for others enduring similar battles. With a story that is both heart-wrenching and inspiring, Eileen’s mission is to shed light on the chronic pain epidemic and to improve care and understanding for all patients.

The Silent Epidemic of Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is a pervasive issue in the United States, affecting over 51 million Americans daily. Of these, 17 million suffer from high-impact chronic pain – pain so severe that it disrupts daily activities and often prevents those who are stricken from working. Draining over $600 billion from the U.S. economy each and every year, persistent pain remains largely invisible to those not directly affected. This economic impact includes both the incremental costs of medical care due to pain and the indirect costs of lower productivity including lost wages, disability days, and fewer hours worked. These numbers barely scratch the surface, however, of the overall agonizing toll pain takes on sufferers and their families.

Eileen knows this pain as well as its financial, mental, and emotional burdens all too well. During her 15-year personal battle with chronic pain, she suffered from debilitating migraines as well as severe leg and back pain. She also suffered from other serious health issues including breast cancer (twice), irritable bowel syndrome, pelvic floor dysfunction, depression, and PTSD. She tried nearly every treatment offered by Western medicine for her pain including having four back surgeries each of which failed and taking large amounts of opioids but found no lasting relief. She felt abandoned by a medical system that too often dismissed her plight or made her feel weak or like a drug-seeker merely for trying to get her life back.

A Journey Through Darkness

Eileen’s journey reached its lowest point when she contemplated taking her own life to escape the unrelenting pain. “In the very darkest hours of my life, I tried to decide whether to overdose using my fentanyl patches or my Dilaudid pills,” she recalls. This moment of utter despair highlighted the devastating impact chronic pain can have on mental health and became a turning point for Eileen.

Throughout her harrowing ordeal with pain and other serious illness, Eileen encountered a wide range of patient care, from compassionate and angelic on one hand to indifferent and harmful on the other. She experienced gaslighting, a loss of identity, and a complete erosion of self-worth. The very system meant to provide care often left her feeling victimized anew, compounding her suffering.

From Pain to Purpose

Despite this adversity, Eileen’s story is one of resilience and transformation. Over the past two years, she has embarked on a remarkable journey of healing and hope. Now she wants to inspire others and help them rediscover their optimism for a bright, pain-free future saying “I am a living testament to the fact that there is plenty of living, loving, and laughing to do after pain and serious illness. I recovered, and so can you!” 

Eileen’s journey fueled a new mission: to turn her pain into purpose. She founded PX Empower (www.pxempower.com) to create an authoritative platform for patient voices and to drive meaningful and desperately needed change within healthcare. Eileen wants to educate and inspire patients – especially women – to be their own advocates for quality care and to teach and encourage healthcare providers to reconnect with their “Why” and become more compassionate and holistic healers. 

Advocating for Better Care

Eileen’s advocacy work is driven by her belief that the U.S., as one of the wealthiest nations in the world, can and must do better in caring for all patients. 

Her advocacy and presentations focus on several key areas:

  • Raising Awareness: Eileen seeks to increase public and professional awareness of chronic pain and its impact on individuals, families, and society. By sharing her personal story, she hopes to humanize the statistics and foster empathy and understanding.
  • Improving Patient Care: Drawing from her own experiences and those of others, Eileen advocates for patient-centered care that respects and validates the experiences of patients and their families across all healthcare disciplines. For medical audiences, she emphasizes the importance of listening to patients, reducing their anxiety and confusion, tailoring treatment plans to their specific needs – physical, mental, and emotional – and providing affordable solutions.
  • Educating Healthcare Providers: Well-meaning providers are often beleaguered by a system, especially insurance, that is fundamentally flawed. Eileen speaks to healthcare professionals and students about overcoming systemic obstacles, partnering with their patients to promote more holistic healing, and recharging their own batteries and passions to elevate the care they provide.
  • Supporting Mental Health: Recognizing the profound impact chronic pain and other illnesses can have on mental health, Eileen advocates for integrated care that addresses both physical and emotional well-being. She stresses the need for mental health support as a critical component of patient care.

A Message of Hope and A Call to Action

Eileen’s story is a powerful reminder that even in the darkest of times, there is hope. By starting PX Empower to elevate the experiences of all patients, Eileen’s work is not just a personal crusade but a call to action for society. Having been at the lowest level herself, Eileen has taken to heart Mahatma Gandhi’s famous words, “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.” Having personally experienced many of the glaring deficiencies in the US healthcare system, Eileen now advocates for more compassionate, informed, and affordable care to meet patients’ individual and multifaceted needs. Through her work, Eileen is forging a new path where patients can take charge of their own health and providers can overcome systemic obstacles to become true advocates and better healers for their patients.

Contact Information for Eileen:



Published By: Aize Perez

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