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Everything Isn’t Always As It Seems: Navigating Invisible Illness

Host Anita Rao talks to three people living with medical conditions not visible to others about how that invisibility affects their daily lives, from navigating the healthcare system to building and sustaining romantic relationships.

More than a year into this pandemic, we’ve all learned at least one thing: just because someone appears healthy does not mean that they are. Millions of people are dealing with invisible illnesses — things that cannot be seen by others but impact how they navigate life. Invisible illness can affect many aspects of life, from making friendships to holding down jobs. But many are making it work while fighting stigma and isolation.

Host Anita Rao explores what it’s like to live with an invisible illness with Akilah Cadet, the founder and CEO of Change Cadet consulting firm, and Martha Hoelzer, a photographer, concussion awareness advocate and a board member of the Brain Injury Association of North Carolina. Martha is also the creator of “What Lies Beneath,” a series of photos and videos that depict what someone’s vision may look like after a concussion. Rao also examines how navigating an invisible illness can impact relationships with Kerry Heckman, a somatic psychotherapist and freelance writer and her husband Zach Heckman, a human resources professional.

Elikem is the intern for WUNC's "Embodied Radio Show" and previously interned for "The State of Things". She is a third-year student at North Carolina State University with a degree in science, technology, and society, and minors in Africana studies and mathematics.
Anita Rao is an award-winning journalist and the host and creator of "Embodied," a live, weekly radio show and seasonal podcast about sex, relationships & health. She's also the managing editor of WUNC's on-demand content.