‘Paint the Town Teal’ events raise awareness for rare disease in Lethbridge

Participants of a scavenger hunt dressed in teal to raise awareness for trigeminal neuralgia on Sunday in Lethbridge. Eloise Therien / Global News

A Lethbridge group is taking part in events to raise awareness for a rare neurological disease called trigeminal neuralgia.

On Sunday, an educational scavenger hunt was set up around the city to encourage participants to learn about the condition and have the chance to win prizes.

Sometimes known as the “suicide disease,” trigeminal neuralgia is one of the most painful afflictions in modern medicine, associated with higher levels of depression and suicidal ideation, according to the Facial Pain Association.

TN sufferers experience extreme jolts of pain in the face, which can be triggered by the wind, brushing teeth or other stimulants.

“Going out and about is tough on a good day,” said Jackie Anderson-Lea on Sunday. “Then… [being] immunocompromised in a pandemic… it’s tough, really tough.”

Read more: The ‘invisible pain’: B.C. marks Trigeminal Neuralgia awareness day

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The condition is normally found in people over the age of 50 but isn’t unheard of in younger patients.

Anderson-Lea is one of the organizers of Paint the Town Teal Trigeminal Neuralgia Awareness events in Lethbridge, the first of which was the scavenger hunt over the weekend. For her, the condition is very close to home.

“My daughter was diagnosed at the age of 15,” Anderson-Lea on Sunday. “Ultimately, we want to find a cure, and we need people to know about it in order to find a cure.”

International Trigeminal Neuralgia Awareness Day takes place on Oct. 7. The Lethbridge group will be hosting a lantern walk at the Civic Centre track at 7 p.m.

Anderson-Lea added that city hall plans to illuminate in the colour teal on Wednesday, which represents the disease.

“To see our community come together, just wrap us in that support and take the time to actually learn and raise that awareness just means the world to us.”

According to the Trigeminal Neuralgia Association of Canada, approximately 1,500 Canadians are diagnosed with the condition each year.

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