I met with Christina Sall over Zoom a few weeks ago. She is a student in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and advocate for affordable medication for migraineurs. Christina has suffered from migraine since she was five years old. It runs in the family, affecting both her mother and grandmother. Her family understood how migraine can affect an individual’s entire life. Christina’s migraine attacks became more frequent in her teenage years: progressing from monthly to weekly and, eventually, daily. She mentioned she sleeps with an icepack on her head every night because it eased the pain from the migraine attacks. Christina had to be prepared for a migraine attack at any time, generating massive amounts of anxiety. The depression that is associated with many chronic conditions also affected Christina. She had lost friends because they were not able to understand the lifestyle changes necessitated by migraine. Thankfully, she has a very supportive family, friend group, and significant other.

Christina had been admitted into a competitive nursing program in 2016, but her migraine condition began to overwhelm her body and affect her ability to focus on school. She was either suffering from a migraine or working through the dulling side effects of medication. Two years into her nursing program, Christina became too sick to continue. This was devastating for her because it had taken a lot of hard work to gain admission and she had hoped to finish her nursing degree. Christina had no choice but to leave the program and instead returned to finish her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, minoring in counselling, at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Christina had tried many different approaches to managing her migraine attacks. She participated in various drug trials for migraine and has been admitted to the emergency room due to severe side effects. She began using Aimovig in March 2019, and it has changed her life. About three months after starting Aimovig, her migraine frequency decreased to once in every three months. It made an incredible difference. Christina has joined nursing school again, this time at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, and is currently achieving straight A’s throughout her semesters. Counsellors at Christina’s school suggested she make use of their accessibility services, a possibility her previous nursing program had never provided. The accessibility services gave Christina the accommodations necessary to work around migraine. They understood that testing a student while they are suffering from a migraine does not generate results that are reflective of their capabilities. With Aimovig and the flexibility of her class schedule, Christina has been successful in school.

Over the past few years, Christina has been fighting for provincial coverage of Aimovig. For an individual paying out of pocket, Aimovig would cost about six hundred dollars a month. Christina understands the impact that a drug like Aimovig could have on some individuals and is advocating for it to be more affordable with the help of the province.

From speaking with Christina, it is clear that making Aimovig affordable could drastically change the lives of many migraineurs. For some, it would make returning to school or work a possibility. She believes that migraine medication should be more accessible as chronic pain is so disabling. Christina is also a great advocate for many students with migraine. Accessibility services and counselling could provide a great amount of support for migraineurs who are struggling with school. Christina continues to fight for people suffering with migraine and hopes that her advocacy will shed light on the impact migraine has on this population and what we can do to help.

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