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Utah family raises awareness about migraines after daughter's death

Ever since Danielle committed suicide at 17 years old after years of migraine suffering, her family has been trying to raise awareness Courtesy: Henry family

(KUTV) It's a silent disease -- one that has been discounted and misunderstood for decades.

But now one Utah family is taking their fight against migraines public.

The Henry family lost their 17-year-old daughter and sister, Danielle, when she committed suicide after chronic migraines caused a stroke and left her no relief from the pain.

"She would get very sick, turn very pale, she would get dizzy and throw up," explained Danielle's father, Dr. Dan Henry. "She had a headache pretty much every day, and then in her senior year she had a small stroke."

Henry co-runs a family physician practice at the Foothill Family Clinic. He trained as a family doctor, but ever since his daughter died, he has devoted most of his time and practice to patients suffering from migraines.

Patients like Kylie Girsberger, who has been suffering from chronic migraines since high school.

"I went to various doctors and neurologists, I had MRIs, I did physical therapy for three months hoping it was something with my neck. Nothing seemed to work," Kylie said.

One time the migraine was so bad, Girsberger says it was for six months. The pain has been so difficult to manage, she had to leave early from a mission serving the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"I always think it's like an elephant standing on my head, but like from the inside, like my brain wants to explode. It's a lot of piercing sharp pain."

Medications and treatments finally brought relief for Girsberger, but for millions of others suffering from chronic migraines, they can't work or can't go to school. Even more difficult, is the lack of belief.

"It's hard to explain it to people who haven't experienced it themselves. It's easy for them to think you're faking. It's just an excuse to get out of work or not do your homework," she said. "People say, 'oh yeah just drink more water, or take an aspirin, a Coke, That'll help you it helped me.' Well that's not the case, it affects your life, and you really can't function because of the intensity of it."

That's why Henry decided to start a new foundation in his daughter's memory: the Danielle Byron Henry Foundation.

"From the time she was little, I've always been searching for a cure," Henry said.

The Danielle Byron Henry Foundation is hosting its first fundraiser this Friday on June 10, from 6 to 10 p.m. The fundraiser will feature the musical reunion of the Saliva Sisters and the Disgusting Brothers Band. The event will be held at the IJ & Jeanne Wagner Jewish Community Center in Salt Lake City.

For more information and how to purchase tickets for the event, visit DanielleFoundation.org.

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