Although May 12 may be best known as Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, it is actually the Awareness Day for a number of neuro-immune disorders, including:
- Fibromyalgia (FM)
- Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME)
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
- Gulf War Syndrome (GWS)
- Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS)
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Awareness Day. The idea was originally developed by Tom Hennessey, founder of RECIND, Inc. and has grown each year since. Although Awareness Day began in the United States, it is now recognized internationally.
The date of May 12 was chosen because it is Florence Nightingale's birthday. Nightingale was an English army nurse during the Crimean War (1854-1856) and was a pioneer in what would become the International Red Cross Movement. She became ill while working on the front lines and never really recovered. Her symptoms of pain and fatigue closely resembled what we today know as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. She was virtually bedridden for much of the rest of her life until her death in 1910.
Why Awareness Is Important
When we first began to form what would become the National Fibromyalgia Association 15 years ago, we initially named the organization the National Fibromyalgia Awareness Campaign. At that time, few people had ever even heard the word fibromyalgia and even fewer had 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 since then. For a more in-depth discussion of why awareness is so important and how far we've come, please read: Why Awareness Is Important - Fibromyalgia Awareness Day
An Awareness Day Gift for You
The National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association (NFMCPA) has partnered with Stephen Eyer, producer of the film Living with Fibromyalgia, to bring you, the FM community, an amazing one-day-only special gift for Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. On Saturday, May 12, 2012, you will be able to go to NFMCPA's Website and download a free copy of Living with Fibromyalgia! If you miss the one-day offer, you will still be able to download the film for a 25 percent discount after May 12.
About the film: Filmmakers Daneen Akers and Stephen Eyer asked many questions when Daneen's mother was diagnosed with fibromyalgia several years ago. After experiencing their own family's search for answers, they decided to make a film about their journey for understanding and hope. They interviewed doctors, experts, and most importantly, Daneen's mom and other fibromyalgia patients from diverse backgrounds, who share their own stories of learning to survive and even thrive with this illness.
This would be an excellent film to share with your family and friends to give them a better understanding of fibromyalgia and how it affects you.
You can see a trailer from the film here: Living with Fibromyalgia
How You Can Participate in Awareness Day
Following are a few suggestions of how you might take part in raising awareness of fibromyalgia:
- Each of us can conduct our own personal awareness campaign by helping our families and friends learn more about the illness that has had such a serious impact on our lives. In addition to the film mentioned above, here is an article that might help family members and friends have a little better understanding of what it's like to have fibromyalgia: Understanding Fibromyalgia: An open letter to anyone who has a fibromyalgia patient in his or her life.
- If you haven't already done so, please fill out the the Fibromyalgia and Family Impact Survey. It will help us learn possible ways to help you, with the aid of your healthcare professionals, work toward improving your relationships with family and friends.
- If you'd like to participate in some of the other awareness day activities, you can find more information here:
NFMCPA - Awareness Day 2012
Do you have information about any other national or local Awareness Day events you'd like to share? If so, please click on "Comment" below and tell us about them.
Happy Awareness Day!