Lizz Russell, Celebrity Designer and Patient Advocate

| April 2, 2018 | 0 Comments

Over the past seven years, I have had the pleasure of working with and getting to know celebrity designer Lizz Russell. In the process, I’ve gotten to know and understand her life and the challenges she has had to overcome because of serious health issues. She is inspiring. In honor of her annual May Cocktails and Couture Fashion Show, which brings awareness to the Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) and Chronic-Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP), I wanted to give Russell the opportunity to share her thoughts on this rare disease that only two in 100,000 people get. Russell’s contributions, through her outreach and awareness efforts, have had an impact on the community and myself personally.

“We spend the entire month of May getting information out through pamphlets, radio and spots television spots, as well as social media, and word-of-mouth to hospitals and emergency rooms. We do everything possible to bring awareness to this disease.”

Bringing awareness to the disease on a daily basis has been Russell’s mission, but this May, she will do much more to bring attention to this very personal subject.

“The reason I do my charity fashion show every May is to bring awareness to this rare disease. I believe with all my heart it is my calling to bring forth information and awareness to people who would otherwise have no clue at all about this debilitating disease.”

She shared the huge impact the disease had on her life and design career after she was diagnosed with GBS.

“I was right in the middle of school at Brooks College in Long Beach California. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I disappeared from the fashion scene not to return to school. I went back and forth to different hospitals and emergency rooms to be misdiagnosed, every single time.

She added, “I was in pretty bad shape. Yet, I never gave up hope of becoming an influential fashion designer. It took everything I had, physically and emotionally, to keep my dream alive.

“Eventually, I reminded myself, I’m in the fashion industry with cameras, beautiful people, photo shoots, and so on. GBS hit me so badly that I still have paralysis in the right side of my face. Yet, I realized how very blessed I was considering everything I had been through. Undoubtedly, I have so much to be grateful for, including the fact that I’m not in a wheelchair, nor do I have to walk with a cane. That’s why it is my mission to encourage, inspire and uplift patients that come my way.”

Knowing Russell, her spirit and determination, I know she has made an impact on others diagnosed with this disease and the survivors she’s met who have shared their journey. I asked her what difference she thought she has made for this cause.

“I’d like to think I’ve had a large impact on those with the disease and their families. Being that I’m a liaison and also a patient advocate, I take this role very seriously and do what ever it takes to make sure their needs are met, including dealing with the insurance companies.

“These patients are so very vulnerable. When you’re too weak to fight for yourself, you need someone to fight for you. That’s why I’m here. It’s my calling.”

Being involved in Russell’s fashion shows, I know her personal and professional outpouring to the attendees and the individuals contributing to the show. This May is no different. The celebrities that have come out over the years to support, host and speak for the fashion shows have proven that she has also touched their lives.

I asked Russell how many years she has done this show and how she believes it has it brought awareness to GBS.

“This is our 8th annual Cocktails & Couture Lizz Russell Fashion Show. I would say that it has had a great impact on the GBS community because people now associate The Lizz Russell Collection with GBS. It’s been a wonderful experience because I have made it my life’s mission to bring awareness through fashion.

“At one time I couldn’t even walk or talk. I’m extremely honored to be able to do this show each year.

“It is my hope to bring some serious awareness to the fact that all GBS patients need treatment. No one should be discriminated because of the cost, because the treatments are very expensive.

“And they need a strong sense of community and a wonderful support system, because this is a very devastating disease.

“I’m very grateful that I was able to get a proclamation from The City of San Diego in 2013 recognizing May as Guillain-Barre’ Syndrome (GBS) and Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy Disorder (CIDP) Awareness Month.”

Please visit Celebrity Designer Lizz Russell’s website at www.lizzrussell.com to learn more about her collections and foundation, as well as to purchase her award winning book titled “Smiling On The Inside.” The book is also available on Amazon.com.

To be a part of GBS/CIDP awareness month in May and attend the 8th Annual Cocktails and Couture beautiful fashion show, visit www.westgatehotel.com. Celebrity guests are to be announced. Please note that a portion of all the proceeds will go to the GBS/CIDP International Foundation.

 

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