Meet Our Spokespeople

These individuals are dedicated to spreading the Shades for Migraine message and raising awareness for the disease by sharing their experiences. Each of them has a unique story and background.  Below you will learn about two women who have very different stories, however, what they have in common is that their lives have been deeply impacted by migraine and multiple other comorbid conditions. Our medical spokespeople are two physicians who have dedicated their careers to helping people who live with migraine. These spokespeople are available for press and speaking opportunities. Please contact melissa@migrainedisorders.org for more details.

Jo

Jo Beckwith

YouTuber, Public Speaker & Advocate

Jo Beckwith is a YouTuber who has created a community of over 200,000 people who can connect with her experience in some way or another. She has been living with migraine since she was 20 years old (almost 10 years). It has impacted every area of her life – from social and romantic relationships to work opportunities, travel, and more. Beyond migraine, she is also a below-knee amputee. Though she’s gone through the experience of losing a limb, living with migraine has been “exponentially more challenging”. From the outside, her amputation is the only ailment that can be seen but ironically the invisible illnesses she deals with are even more debilitating. 

 

Trying to find a way to balance having an actual life with trying to fight through migraine attacks multiple days a week has been exhausting. She commonly cancels appointments and meetings because a migraine attack has begun to flare up unexpectedly. She’s spent countless hours (and dollars) in doctor’s offices trying to find solutions that will actually work.

Sophia is a talented singer and songwriter and has developed a really successful career for her young age. However, the life she lives is far from what she planned for herself when she was younger. From the outside, you would never know the battles Sophia has to overcome each day. 

Sophia’s migraine journey escalated in 9th grade after severe bullying incidents. This experience, coupled with other incidents throughout elementary school, eventually led to PTSD. From that year, she has dealth with chronic, daily migraine. Every day she lives with some level of pain with most days being a 7-9 on a pain scale of 10. Yet no one, including teachers, doctors, principals, would believe her because they couldn’t see her pain. Ironically, a schoolmate received an exception for homebound school after breaking a leg while Sophia’s requests were continuously denied. 

Missing out on most of her teenage years, Sophia was also diagnosed with fibromyalgia, arthritis, anxiety and depression. She has seen countless doctors and tried a plethora of treatments including Botox, Aimovig, Ubrevely, nerve blocks, diets, acupuncture, cryotherapy, hypnotic therapy, Cefaly, laser therapy, and the list goes on. 

As a young girl, she wanted to be a veterinarian. Now that she is older and countless illnesses have taken precedence, she has decided to pursue a new dream. Her struggles paved the way to develop a new passion for music, her form of art therapy. 

Sophia was only 16 years old at the time when her first single, “Daddy Issues” was released. Within the first two months of the release, her song gained 100K+ streams on Spotify which has now amassed 4m+ streams/views.
Shortly after, she released her follow-up single “Out My Way”. It is an anthem to inspire women and young girls who may be living with burdensome conditions like PTSD, migraine, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and mental health to stay strong and persevere. 

Now working with numerous highly acclaimed producers and recording engineers, Sophia continues to write and record music to inspire, raise awareness, empower, and motivate people. As she gets better, she sees herself on stage doing live performances and releasing a song on a monthly basis. 

Though living with chronic pain sometimes feels like “an overwhelming sense of unfairness”, Sophia has worked hard to find the positives in living with these diseases. She often has people reach out to her to share their bullying and chronic illness experiences. Knowing that her music may have inspired people to share their stories she wonders if helping others is the reason behind her having these pain disorders. 

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Sophia Gonzon

Singer, Songwriter & Advocate

Medical Spokespeople

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Deena Kuruvilla, MD

Headache Physician & Medical Director

Westport Headache Institute

Deena E. Kuruvilla, M.D., is a board certified neurologist and Director of the Westport Headache Institute, where she employs a holistic, biopsychosocial approach to diagnosis and treatment. She has held clinical appointments at the Yale University School of Medicine prior to starting her own practice, and has authored many articles, book chapters, and research publications.

Dr. Kuruvilla completed her medical internship at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. Subsequently, she completed her Neurology residency at Brown University in Rhode Island, where she was chief resident. She went on to complete a fellowship in Headache and Facial Pain at the Montefiore Headache Center and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She is board certified in Neurology by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and certified in Headache Medicine by the United Council for Neurologic Subspecialties.

Dr. Kuruvilla’s primary focus deals with the procedural side of Headache Medicine, which include nerve block injections, botulinum toxin injections and trigger point injections for the treatment of headache. She is a member of the American Academy of Neurology and American Headache Society and actively serves on the special interests sections for the procedural headache medicine section of the American Headache Society. She has also been an invited reviewer and author for many peer-reviewed publications including HeadacheCephalalgiaJAMA, and the British Medical Journal.

Dr. Kuruvilla’s research and clinical work has been widely featured in the press, including Prevention MagazineNeurology TodayFood Network, and the Wall Street Journal.

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Christopher Rhyne, MD

Headache Physician & Director of Clinical Research

Diamond Headache Clinic

Dr. Rhyne is a Board-Certified Headache Physician. He has a BA in Political Science from Quincy University, an MBA from Plymouth State University, Post Baccalaureate studies in Chemistry from the University of Missouri, and his MD from Windsor University School of Medicine. He did his residency with the University of Illinois Chicago-Rockford’s Family Medicine Residency Program and his Headache Medicine Fellowship with The University of Wisconsin’s Neuro and Headache Center in Rockford, IL. He is double boarded in Family Medicine as well as Headache and Facial Pain. He is trained in the use of Bedside Ultrasound for diagnostics and procedural interventions and maintains a professorship with University of Illinois Chicago-Rockford Campus. He is also a proud veteran of the US Army.

Dr. Rhyne loves his work. He is lucky to be married to an amazing woman and the love of his life, Elizabeth. She has blessed him with two amazing children, Connor and Benjamin. Dr. Rhyne’s medical training has been in and around the Chicago Land area and the Midwest is home. Chicago is just where he and his family wanted to settle down. Dr. Rhyne has 2 great dogs, Rory and Biscuit.  He loves music, plays the drums, and is learning piano. He is a fan of great movies and loves to hang out with his family in his free time. 

Dr. Rhyne is intensely focused on improving the lives of his patients and supporting them as they traverse their conditions. The truth is, the human condition can be difficult. He sees this as a chance to look through the formality of the doctor & patient relationship to see a real person in need of help. He will work with everything he can in order to better their lives so they can be lived. Dr. Rhyne wanted to become a doctor because there are people that need help. He believes it is that simple and sees medicine as a path that lets him serve others. His passion for Headache Medicine is driven. He says, “I want to break down barriers between those that need care and the knowledge and application of that care. So many patients don’t know how to start, who to see, or what options exist for their care. I need that to change.”

When he is not working, he loves to spend time with his kids and wife relaxing and traveling. Good music and taking in a good movie are ways he likes to have fun. He is a fan of a good bourbon and catching a good ball game. Cardinals Baseball, Bears Football, Duke Basketball, and Arsenal Soccer are all teams he cheers on! When it comes to family Dr. Rhyne is a loving and supportive father. He agrees, “raising my sons to be men of character is my greatest focus. More than that, being the type of man my wife and family can always be proud of drives me.”