Graduate Stories & News


BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders: A pilot study of health and wellness coaching for fibromyalgia

A Chronic Entrepreneur: Tami Stackelhouse, Thriving with Fibromyalgia

National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association: Personalized Fibromyalgia Coaching — The Basics Fibromyalgia Health Coaches and Educators Could Fill Vital Gap in Care, by Ginevra Liptan, MD Everyone needs a Coach in their corner, by Melissa Swanson Working with Chronic Illness, by Julie Ryan

Readers’ Favorite Recognizes Take Back Your Life in its Annual International Book Award Contest (Press Release, Gold Medal Winner, Non-Fiction – Health – Medical genre)

Inkubated! Magazine: From One-on-One Coach to Institute Founder in Six Months

Graduate Stories

IFCI would love to introduce you to some of our graduates. Below, you will read about the journeys of several of our graduates, in their own words. Each student experience is different, but the stories below do reflect a good cross-section of the experiences of our graduates. More stories will be added as they are available.

Terry McSweeneyTerry McSweeney
Certified Fibromyalgia Advisor

Through this program, and her coaching, Tami gave me hope for a brighter future. She helped me see fibromyalgia from a different point-of-view. Even though I have pain most every day, I don’t have to let this pain keep me from living a joyful life. Tami helped me see a variety of options for my medical care, by showing me how alternative providers, like a naturopath or a chiropractor, can work with my primary care physician to help me put together an action plan for my overall medical care. Now my naturopath and my primary care physician are working together to help me.

Tami also opened my eyes to see that this doesn’t have to be a condition that I have to keep a secret. I can come out from behind the invisible wall. I can stand with pride and say, “I have fibromyalgia.”

My goal as a Fibromyalgia Advisor is to show my clients the pathways to health, hope, and happiness, so they can live a joyful life. In order to do that, I need listen to my client’s story, without judgement. I need to help my clients focus on the symptoms, strategies, providers, supplements, and medications that have worked for them — and haven’t — and why. I also need to share my story — what has worked for me, and what hasn’t — so that I can build trust and rapport with the women that I work with. I want to help my clients find the inner strength and courage that they didn’t know they had, and break through the fog. That is what I want to do for my clients — and that’s what Tami did for me.

Laura HolcombLaura Holcomb
Certified Fibromyalgia Advisor

Over the last 16 weeks in this program, you’ve made us more aware of ourselves, our bodies, and how to care for ourselves. It’s been almost a domino effect for me. Each month, I’ve seen that my [bad] days are becoming fewer and fewer.

This is the first time in nine years that I was present and up and moving around for the holidays. I cooked for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Christmas Eve. For me to consistently have that many hours where I was up — it was like a breath of fresh air! My son, who was nine when I was diagnosed, had never experienced two back-to-back holidays where I was healthy and well, that he remembered. So, it was a wonderful way to spend his last year at home, before he graduates in May. My daughter, who had not seen me like that since she was in sixth grade, was absolutely thrilled. When she got home from college, she felt like I was back.

It has just been a whirlwind experience. I really like being able to go on dates with my husband again. It has been SO long since we were able to go on dates, and now we’re able to do that. And it’s awesome!

Melissa SwansonMelissa Swanson
Certified Fibromyalgia Advisor

I work full-time. I have an active, non-driving daughter, almost driving, and my advocacy work. I had also just committed to write for ProHealth when the deadline to sign up for this program happened. I really wanted to take the class, but was worried that I would be taking on more than I could handle.

I thought about it and looked at my weekly schedule. I blocked out my work hours and my committed activities, such as swimming, napping grocery shopping, dinner. Then, I blocked out my Fibro Warrior work. Finally, I added the time for this class and homework. I knew that if I stuck to my Dream Week Planner, like I try to do with my bedtime routine, that I could do it.

It looked really easy on paper, but when class got started, there were a lot of days where I would doubt myself or feel extremely overwhelmed. That’s when I would reach out to others in the class so that they could just listen — and they understood. My family pitched in; my husband helped with dinners, did the daughter transportation, and reminded me to do my homework when I wasn’t doing it.

For me, it came down to not whether I could do it all, but that I knew that I needed and I had to make it work. I wanted to learn more about everything related to fibromyalgia. I learned so much from you that I can take forward and help myself — but also to continue to help others that are living with a chronic illness.