It is with heavy heart that we report the passing of Dr. Robert M. Bennett on May 22, 2020.
When I read the letter from his daughter, Katrina, the news took my breath away for a moment. I can’t count the number of times over the years I thought about Dr. Bennett and his wife, Sharon, wondering how their lives were going and wanting to make sure that he knew how much he touched my life and the millions of other people in the world who live with fibromyalgia.
Dr. Bennett was a hero in my eyes. His medical work, compassion and the sacrifices he made, not only changed people’s lives for the better, but he also set the stage for the future … a better future for people with health issues that are misunderstood and often times stigmatized.
He brought science and class to fibromyalgia, which helped encourage others to believe our pain is real, and improved the way patients were treated, as well as helped to find new ways to reduce our symptoms and suffering. Dr. Bennett was a pioneer and deserves to be remembered for the great contributions he made to the understanding and treatment of fibromyalgia!
Not many people may know this, but in 1997 I went to a seminar in San Diego to hear Dr. Bennett speak. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 1995 and had decided that I wanted to create a non-profit to help people with FM. After hearing him speak, I somehow got up the courage and walked up to the podium after his talk.
I asked him if he would be on my non-profit’s medical advisory board. (The thing was … the National Fibromyalgia Association was hardly even formed yet, and there was no Medical Advisory Board!) He looked at me, paused for a moment, and then said, “Yes, of course!” I was ecstatic! His commitment made me believe that I could tum the NFA into an organization that would help thousands (and even one-day millions) of people with FM.
It was Dr. Bennett, who on blind faith, made a commitment to me (which he kept a thousand times over) to help me build the NFA so that we, the FM community, would have a patient organization that was working in collaboration with the top researchers and medical providers. My life changed right then! For the past 23 years, my life has been about the NFA and helping people with FM and chronic pain.
There is a footnote to this story …
Often when he would speak at one of the NFA’s conferences, or help me by presenting at one of our CME programs, he would start off by telling the story of my asking him to be on the NFA Medical Advisory Board. He would laugh and say that when he said yes, he actually never expected to hear from me again! He would then say, “Little did I know what Lynne had planned and how much I was committing to! ” Everyone would laugh because they knew how much he had contributed to the NFA and many other organizations and programs! We also knew that Dr. Bennett was happy to help and his passion and dedication to the understanding and treating of people with FM were why he never said “no” when you would ask him for help!
In 2008 Dr. Bennett was on the cover and featured in the lead article in Vol I7 of FM Aware Magazine, the flagship publication of the NFA. He also wrote the following article for our website, providing extensive information on FM for the fibromyalgia community.
Dr. Bennett’s scientific findings and compassionate care of people with FM will always be remembered.
To his wife, Sharon Bennett, daughter, Katrina and his family and friends, I wish to extend my sincere sympathies on your loss. And, on behalf of the National Fibromyalgia Association I am honored and pleased to help make sure that Dr. Robert M. Bennett’s legacy will be shared and preserved.
Lynne Kennedy Matallana
President and Founder
National Fibromyalgia Association