Dr C Kaye Brand (2015)
Kaye Brand placed community service ahead of a career as a successful physiotherapist in order to understand and teach people about fibromyalgia - a debilitating medical condition she was diagnosed with 20 years ago, and which impacts thousands of Australians each year.
Fibromyalgia is a challenging condition that causes widespread pain and stiffness in the muscles, tendons and ligaments and can affect many aspects of a person’s life.
At the time she was diagnosed, Kaye found that there was very little research, education and support for people with the condition in Australia. She made it her mission to source the latest assessments, treatment options, research papers and medical specialists, and share this information with others affected by the disease
Kaye’s vision to raise awareness of fibromyalgia amongst the broader community was aided by the completion of her PhD in 2005, which focussed on investigating the urinary symptoms of fibromyalgia. In the process, she developed the Fibromyalgia Bladder Index, which is currently used by clinicians.
Kaye quickly established herself as a leader in the area of fibromyalgia public education and support. She has never stopped increasing her knowledge and reach.
This culminated in her founding the Western Australian Fibromyalgia Network in 2007. The not-for-profit organisation has since grown significantly. Starting with only two people, the organisation now has more than 1,700 members and has been hugely successful in bringing together thousands of individuals affected by the disorder.
This spectacular growth is testament to Kaye’s leadership, courage and self-sacrifice.
Through small community grants and fundraising activities, the Network is now financially self-supporting. Kaye has personally fund-raised for the Fibromyalgia Support Network, including $20,000 in the 2015 HBF Run for a Reason, making her the third highest individual fundraiser for the event.
In collaboration with Rachael West (creator of Yoga for Pain), Kaye developed the first Australian-based fibromyalgia management course: ‘Finding your Feet with Fibromyalgia’, which comprises a two-day workshop, focussed on movement and pain management.
At 68 years of age, Kaye is a role model not only to people with fibromyalgia, but many others. She has triumphed over her own health issues, completed her PhD, led and organised educator forums and built community networks and services to improve care and support for people with the condition.
She personifies the determination and commitment it takes to triumph over adversity, and continues to inspire her personal and professional community. She is a worthy recipient of the John Curtin Medal 2015.