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Why Do ME/CFS & FM Share the Same Awareness Day?

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Have you noticed that May 12 is International Awareness Day for both ME/CFS and FMS? The reason for the shared date lies in a bit of history.

In 1992 ME/CFS patient and advocate Tom Hennessy proposed that May 12 be designated as “International Awareness Day for Chronic Immunological and Neurological Diseases (CIND)” – a day to speak out and demand that governments respond to these devastating illnesses. It was an idea that galvanized the patient and advocate communities and has gained momentum ever since.

CIND is an umbrella term that includes Gulf War Syndrome and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome as well as ME/CFS and FMS. These, Hennessy reasoned, are all “characterized by cognitive problems, chronic muscle and joint pain, extremely poor stamina,” and more; are potentially very debilitating; “afflict people around the world in alarming numbers”; and above all are often “dismissed by the medical profession as…psychosomatic illness.”

And why this date – May 12? It marks the birthday of Florence Nightingale – a British healthcare reformer (1820-1910) who broke the trail for modern hygienic, compassionate medical care and public health, served the wounded gallantly during the Crimean war, and became known as the founder of modern nursing. But in addition to being one of the greatest change-makers in all of medical history, Florence Nightingale suffered the latter half of her life often bedridden with an unidentified CINDs-like syndrome. Various groups diagnose her illness in hindsight as either FMS or ME/CFS. But for all, she is a worthy hero.

Hoping you’ll find a way to lend your voice to this Awareness Day,

Rich Carson,
CFS Patient and ProHealth Founder

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