Powerful Campaign Encourages People To Open Up About Chronic Illnesses (Photos)

Two close friends came up with a unique way to raise awareness about people who suffer from chronic illnesses.

Allie Cashel and Erica Lupinacci -- who have Lyme disease and lupus, respectively -- are done suffering quietly. Instead, with the help of photographer Amanda Crommett, they created a special photo series to give people with similar conditions voices.

In a recent interview with Huffington Post, Lupinacci explained,

I want to show people who are living with disease that they are not alone... They are incredibly strong and brave and deserve as much happiness and respect as anyone else.

Rather than silencing themselves and letting these diseases take over their lives, Cashel and Lupinacci's photo campaign titled "Suffering the Silence: Portraits of Chronic Illness" shines the spotlight on ordinary people with chronic illnesses.

The campaign's description reads,

The stigma surrounding chronic illness can leave people feeling misunderstood, alone, dismissed and silenced. When someone doesn't look visibly sick, one can often forget what their life is like behind the scenes. Eleven New Yorkers spoke out about life with chronic illness, breaking their silence and painting a living portrait of what it is like to live with chronic disease. We will no longer suffer in silence.

Check out the photos below for a closer look!

Allie Cashel and Erica Lupinacci, two friends who suffer from chronic illnesses, wanted to give voices to ordinary people suffering similar conditions.

That's when they decided to create a photo campaign titled "Suffering the Silence: Portraits of Chronic Illness."

The series showcases 11 New Yorkers with chronic conditions and gives each of them a voice to freely reveal his or her disease.

Instead of letting illnesses take over their lives, these people decided to embrace their conditions.

One of the hardest things about suffering from a chronic illness, Lupinacci said, is having society view you as "useless or lazy."

Lupinacci said, "There isn't a space in our society for people who experience disease to talk about it without feeling judged or misunderstood."

She added, "I hope that this can help us get to a place where we can find that."

The chronic illnesses mentioned in the campaign include diabetes, scoliosis, lupus and more.

The "Suffering in Silence" campaign hopes to send a message that people suffer more when they bottle up their experiences and ignore their illnesses' impacts on their lives.

If you're able to open up about your experience and show you will not let it define you, the campaign believes you already won!

Citations: This Is What Chronic Illness Really Looks Like (Huffington Post)