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Cynthia Toussaint founded the organization For Grace in 2002 to raise awareness about the chronic pain disease Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, and five years later expanded the organization’s mission to ensure the ethical and equal treatment of all women in pain. She currently serves as spokesperson, and has had CRPS for 30 years. Before becoming ill, she was an accomplished ballerina and worked professionally as a dancer, actor and singer.
Since 1997, Toussaint has been a leading advocate for women in pain, raising awareness through local, national and worldwide media as well as public speaking. Toussaint championed and gave key testimony at two California Senate informational hearings. The first, in 2001, was dedicated to CRPS awareness, and the second, in 2004, explored the under-treatment of chronic pain and gender bias toward women in pain. Both of these efforts were the first of their kind in the nation.
Toussaint has been featured on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, PBS, Discovery Health, The Learning Channel, AARP The Magazine, Newsweek, Woman’s Day and The New York Times, among others. She is a consultant for ABC News, FOX News and PainPathways, the official magazine of the World Institute of Pain.
In 2006, Toussaint ran for the California State Assembly to bring attention to her CRPS Education Bill that Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed after it got to his desk in its first year. Her current Step Therapy bill will reform an unethical prescription practice used by the health insurance industry to save money in a way that increases the suffering of California pain patients.
Toussaint continues to be a leading advocate for healthcare reform in California and beyond. She was instrumental in changing public opinion that sparked sweeping HMO reform legislation that was signed by California Governor Gray Davis in 1999. Her focus has now shifted to creating a single-payer, universal healthcare plan in California that would provide a model for the rest of the country.
Toussaint is currently experiencing her second partial CRPS remission (first in 27 years!) However, in 2011, she sustained a broken right elbow at the hands of an overly aggressive physical therapist, leading to a year of misdiagnosis, harmful therapies and an upcoming surgery. Her interest in upgrading healthcare in America will continue to be a focus for her and For Grace in the future.
Cynthia currently resides in Los Angeles with her life-partner John Garrett and their two Siamese cats, Zanzibar Stone and Haydée Grace.