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Event sheds light on the ‘invisible’ illness of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Film Discussion for Unrest Sheds Light on the ‘Invisible’ Illness of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

The Center on Disability and Education at the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education will host a public showing of the documentary Unrest, a Sundance award-winning film by Jennifer Brea, on Saturday, May 12, from 2 to 5 p.m., in LeChase Hall (Genrich-Rusling Room) on River Campus. The film showing and discussion, which will take place in honor of ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia International Awareness Day (May 12), will shed light on the realities of living with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), commonly known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

Unrest is a personal journey from patient to advocate to storyteller. Twenty-eight-year-old Jennifer Brea is working on her PhD at Harvard and months away from marrying the love of her life when a mysterious fever leaves her bedridden and looking for answers. Disbelieved by doctors, yet determined to live, she turns her camera on herself and discovers a hidden world of millions confined to their homes and bedrooms by ME/CFS.

The documentary will be shown from 2 to 4 p.m. and will be followed by an expert panel discussion, led by 13WHAM ABC anchor and reporter Jennifer Johnson, from 4 to 5 p.m. Panel guests will include: 

  • Maureen Hanson, Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor in the department of molecular biology & genetics at Cornell and director of the Center for Enervating NeuroImmune Diseases
  • Betsy Keller, professor in the department of exercise and sports sciences at Ithaca College
  • Gordon Broderick, director of the Center for Clinical Systems Biology at Rochester Regional Health and research associate professor in the department of biomedical engineering at RIT 
  • Andre Marquis, associate professor of counseling and human development at the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education
  • Erica Crane, psychotherapist and ME advocate who contracted the disease in 2011

The documentary, which was released in September 2017, helps to raise awareness for this debilitating illness that severely impairs normal activities. ME/CFS is a medical condition characterized by the reduced inability to function after exertion. Roughly 80 percent of people with ME/CFS go undiagnosed, due to a lack of education and awareness. There is no cure for ME/CFS and no universally-effective treatment.

“This film will give viewers an inside look at what happens when you have a disease that doctors are unable to diagnose,” says Martha Mock, professor and director of the Center on Disability and Education at the Warner School. “The event will not only help to raise awareness of the realities of living with ME/CFS, but also create a space to engage in important conversations about the impact of any major chronicle illness on patients and caregivers.”

The program is co-sponsored by: #MEAction; 13WHAM ABC; American Medical Women’s Association; Center for Advocacy, Community Health, Education, and Diversity, University of Rochester Medical Center; Center on Disability and Education, Cornell Center for Enervating NeuroImmune Disease; Institute for the Family, Department of Psychiatry; Rochester NOW; Rochester Regional Health’s Center for Clinical Systems Biology; Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities; and the Warner School of Education.

The event is free and open to the public. Two hours of CME credits are available for this event. Seating is limited. LeChase Hall is located in the historic Wilson Quadrangle, between Todd Union and Wilson Commons, on River Campus. 

Learn more about the Center on Disability and Education at or contact or (585) 276-7079.