May 12 of every year is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. Again this year, advocacy groups are promoting local events and national initiatives to spread the word about fibromyalgia, a condition that affects about five million adults in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Here are some of the ways that you can pitch in.
According to the May 12 International Awareness Day organization, activist Thomas Hennessy, Jr. established the event in 1992 as part of a wider effort to challenge stereotypes and support the needs of people with chronic immunological diseases. Hennessy, who had chronic fatigue syndrome himself, chose the day in honor of Florence Nightingale’s birthday. Nightingale was the founder of modern nursing, and she suffered from symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia organizations soon recognized the event. Today, chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia awareness activities occur all over the world in May.
How You Can Get Involved
There are many ways to spread the word about fibromyalgia and other forms of chronic pain. The CDC suggested these ideas:
- Wear a ribbon. Those with chronic fatigue syndrome wear blue ribbons, while fibromyalgia patients wear purple.
- Share your story about living with the condition with friends, neighbors, and others.
- Take the opportunity to learn more about fibromyalgia and the latest research into causes and potential treatments.
- Attend local events.
Fibromyalgia advocacy groups organize a variety of May 12 activities. You can attend them or in some cases, you can get more involved in organizing and hosting an event. For example, last year, the National Fibromyalgia Association launched an initiative called Feast, Friendship, and Fibro. The group asked members to hold gatherings to promote understanding of fibromyalgia while raising money for educational and research programs.
The National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association’s slogan for May 12 is “your voice matters,” encouraging supporters to speak out about their experiences with illness and pain. The group has planned a series of “Together Walks” to raise funds and awareness in a number of cities. If none of the walks are being held in your area, you can take part in a “virtual online walk.” The organization also offers materials like brochures and posters to help individuals raise awareness in their own communities.
Check for information about fibromyalgia awareness events happening near you in local calendars and online. If you can’t find any, take charge and arrange one. Do your part to help a good cause!