Alumna Publishes Book on Migraine Survival

Profile photo of alumna Danielle Newport FancherLadue Schools alumna Danielle Newport Fancher, Class of 2006, is a writer and chronic migraineur who lives and works in Manhattan. Danielle has recently published a book entitled 10: A Memoir of Migraine Survival, which challenges the stigma that migraines are “just headaches”, and through her writing, she has made it her mission to change that perception. Fancher attended Skidmore College, where she received her bachelor’s degree in Management and Business.

The book cover for "10: A Memoir of Migraine Survival"Check out links to her work and social media pages below:

Danielle shared why she decided to write her book below. Read on to see (in her own words) how migraines affect Danielle personally, and how she took on this project.


Most people don’t know this about me, but I have lived with chronic migraines for many years. For a long time I tried to hide my migraine life, afraid that people would see it as a weakness or flaw. However, with time it became too hard to hide my migraines and they began to take control of my life in every way. They made my quality of work suffer, forced me to stay in bed for weeks, made me unreliable when making plans with friends, burdened my family both financially and emotionally and created a different version of “me.”

The migraines brought the number “10” into my life. I wish that 10 had no meaning for me, but doctors have asked me to rate my pain on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being the best and 10 being the worst, too often to ever count. The number 10 encapsulates feeling too weak and pained to walk the few steps from my bed to the bathroom.

For years I tried to escape my pain through reading books, always hoping to find a character who understood my situation because migraines went unmentioned in my social circles. I needed “something” that told me that I was not alone.

I began writing about my migraines to cope with the pain and suffering. My writing spewed forth, with no polish and little, if any, punctuation. As I wrote, I found that I remembered every single minute detail from all of my migraine experiences, even from a decade prior.

I also desired something that I could share with friends, family members and colleagues who continually misunderstand my illness. They can say things that cause a parallel pain that is equally as deep as the pain of the migraine itself. I could find nothing that would help them understand until I began writing my own story. As a result, just hours before the new year 2014 began, I made a resolution to compile my migraine stories and share them. By the end of the year I had written a lot, deleted most, and rewritten all many times over.

Telling my story in chronological order made the most sense. It shows how my relationship and inner dialogue with migraines changed over time. Moreover, I also developed each chapter thematically by focusing on what I learned from each experience (like Refusing to Fall Behind, Moving into Acceptance and Releasing Emotions). Just as a migraine is so much more than a headache, each migraine-experience is so much more than a migraine.

My writing process was far from glamorous. I always imagined a real writer sitting in a small writing room on a tufted, tan leather chair, surrounded by old library books on dark wooden shelving. Instead, much of the time my bedroom was my writing place in the middle of the night. I did a lot of my writing in my bed at 3AM because I had woken up in pain. The sun coming up often cued me to try to get in another hour or two of shuteye. Otherwise I wrote in a coffee shop next to my apartment in Gramercy in Manhattan. Saturday and Sunday mornings I bribed myself with the promise of a large, black coffee and a bagel with lox and scallion cream cheese if I could make it to the café to write. Despite needing an incentive to get out of bed and to my “office,” once my fingers started typing, it never once felt like work.

In the fall of 2014, my need to share my story became even stronger when I lost one of my “migraine friends.” Her pain had become intolerable. I know she is not alone.

According to the Migraine Research Foundation:

  • There are roughly 39 million Americans and 1 billion migraine sufferers worldwide.
  • There are approximately 28 million women in the United States battling migraine.
  • Over four million adults have chronic daily migraine, consisting of at least 15 migraine days per month.

These numbers, and the many stories behind them, motivate me to give a voice to this soundless illness. That said, I am scared to share such a vulnerable side of myself; as I am sure that the Dani in my writing is a very different person from the Dani that my closest friends and family know. In making my illness public, I am afraid that potential employers will not want to hire me, that I will scare off men who don’t want the burden of dating someone in chronic pain and that readers will judge me. Regardless of my personal fears, I am confident that any potential to help other sufferers is worth the risk and I hope that my story can provide that “something” so that no one has to lie awake at night in pain feeling alone and misunderstood.