Cynthia Toussaint is a cheerful, grounded and beautiful woman who knew as a girl she was meant to be on stage. And, work toward that she did, with talent, grace and diligence as her guide. She was well on her way only to see her career cut short and her life knocked off balance by what started as a hamstring injury at the barre. Instead of clearing up as it should have, it turned malevolent, leaving Cynthia in the grip of what is now recognized as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).
At the time Cynthia was struck, this disease was recognized by her doctors as non-existent or a result of her own neurotic behavior. For thirteen years, until she finally got a diagnosis, she was battered between ignorance and negligence, given shocking opinions as to cause, suffered incapacitating pain, treated with indescribable insensitivity, and betrayed by the very professionals in whose hands she put her well-being. There was a five-year period she could not talk at all, leaving her with no choice but to scribble every thought and request, harrowing for anyone but particularly galling for this dancer who was also an actress and a singer.
Cynthia does not topple easily, and somehow through the desolation and unchartable misery she shifted from the expression of one cluster of abilities to another. With talent, grace and diligence still as her guide, she changed how chronic pain for women is now understood and treated. The lilt in her voice as she talks about her life, her physical suffering, abandonment and emotional despair comes, it seems, from the love, power and determination she has put into making sure no woman ever again suffers as she did.
Best to hear this in her own voice and words where it is most powerful and some of your questions may be answered as you go from horror-struck to joy in Cynthia’s authority over her own life. Her love letter? Several, but the first to John, her sweetheart and partner of 35 years.