May 12 - Fibromyalgia & ME/CFS Awareness Day
This Wednesday, May 12, is Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) Awareness Day. Actually, this date is designated as International Awareness Day for several neuroendrocineimmune illnesses including fibromyalgia, ME/CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome), multiple chemical sensitivities, and Gulf War syndrome.
This year marks the 18th anniversary of Awareness Day. The idea was originally developed by Tom Hennessey, founder of RECIND, Inc. and has grown each year as more and more FM and ME/CFS groups around the world recognize and celebrate it.
The Importance of Awareness
When Lynne Matallana and I got together in 1997 to form what would become the National Fibromyalgia Association, we initially named it the National Fibromyalgia Awareness Campaign. At that time, few people had ever even heard the word 'fibromyalgia' let alone have any idea what it was. Our reasoning was that until awareness was raised, nothing else would happen – patients would not be properly diagnosed, research would not be done and treatments would not be developed.
I'm happy to say that awareness has come a long way in the past 13 years. Most people now have at least a vague idea of what fibromyalgia is and the FDA has approved three medications to treat it. Hardly a day goes by that I don't see a commercial for one of the medications on TV. And ME/CFS also recently gained a new-found international recognition when scientists at the Whittimore-Peterson Institute's discovered a possible link between ME/CFS and the XMRV retrovirus.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Although we're miles ahead of where we were on the first Awareness Day, we still have quite a few miles to go. It's still taking too long for most patients to get an accruate diagnosis. And too many doctors are still unsure about exactly how to treat both FM and ME/CFS. Since early and appropriate treatment can often make a big difference in the long-term prognosis, providing more education for doctors is still a very high priority.
Each of us can conduct our own personal awareness campaign by helping our families and friends learn more about the illness that has impacted our lives. You can find a lot of good information about both FM and ME/CFS here:
If you'd like to participate in some of the national awareness day celebrations, you can find more information here:
National Fibromyalgia Association
CFIDS Association of America
International ME/CFS and FM Awareness Day Facebook Page
American Pain Foundation
If you have information about any other national or local Awareness Day events you'd like to share, please click on “Comment” below and tell us about them.