Chronic immunological and neurological diseases are some of the fastest growing health concerns in the world today. Four of the largest are the overlapping conditions known as fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome (MCSS) and Gulf War syndrome(GWS). These illnesses are often characterized by overwhelming fatigue, severe muscle pain, concentration problems, sleep disorders, headaches, allergic symptoms and numerous other problems that usually last a lifetime. 

ln order to shed some light on these growing health concerns, May 12 of each year has been designated as lnternational Awareness Day. lndividuals battling to survive these illnesses and the people who care about them are strongly urged to voice their concerns on May 12 as well as the two weeks preceding it.

May 12 was chosen to memorialize the birth date of Florence Nightingale, an English army nurse and hero to thousands of soldiers in the Crimean War. lt was her selfless dedication to those less fortunate that inspired William Dunant, a Swiss banker to found the lnternational Red Cross in her honor. Florence Nightingale is eulogized in our history books as a fighter and rightfully so. She lived out the latter part of her life battling symptoms reminiscent of CFS, FMS MCSS and GWS. Nightingale never gave up and neither should you. Despite her illness, Nightingale managed to found the first school of nursing. 

ln memory of Florence Nightingale, May 12 has been selected by RESCIND lnc. (Repeal Existing Stereotypes about Chronic lmmunological and Neurological Diseases) as the lnternational Awareness Day for chronic fatigue syndrome(CFS), fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome (MCSS) and Gulf war Syndrome (GWS). There are many support groups and individuals from around the world who have worked long and hard to bring the tragic toll of these interrelated illnesses to the attention of the medical community, the government, the media and the public at large. We are forever in their debt and hope that May 12 Awareness Day will provide a catalyst to bring more patients together in their efforts to strive for a better life ahead.

The Butterfly Symbol

A Symbol of Hope, A Symbol of New Life

The butterfly lays a tiny dewdrop of an egg on a juicy milk

weed leaf. Inside the egg is her baby. When the baby hatches,

however, she is not a beautiful butterfly like her mother.

She is a caterpillar, who eats and chews on the milkweed

leaf for two weeks. The caterpillar’s skin doesn’t grow with

her, so she has to take it off. She spins a little thread, clings

to it, puffs air under her skin until it splits. She stretches and

twists, until she emerges dressed in a new and larger skin. 

She eats, grows, and changes her skin three times.

Then she hides herself in a dark, cool place and spins a little

button, hooking herself there. Once again she crawls from

her old skin but this time she takes off her caterpillar feet,

head and horns. Underneath is a cocoon, hanging by a black

thread. She hangs for days in stillness; no longer a caterpillar,

but a chrysalis, preparing her secret. Then one day a head

can be seen – a foot comes out. She struggles and struggles.

She must pump something from her body into her wings to

strengthen them. After a long time she emerges, fanning her

wings slowly to dry them. Then she rests for hours. This

beautiful butterfly has never flown. She has done nothing

but a “caterpillar crawl”. Finally she soars into the air as

though she has been flying forever.

We might be tempted to help release the butterfly from her cocoon. It is human nature to want to assist; but if we do, she will fall to the ground and die. By the struggle to free herself, she strengthens her wings enough to survive and fly.

Grief is certainly like this process. We feel ugly, we change, we hide, we sometimes spin a cocoon around ourselves, and we struggle. Like the butterfly, we need to free ourselves. It takes a long time. There is a difference, however, others may help us as we struggle. We need not do it all alone as the butterfly does, but the ultimate responsibility is ours. We have to grieve, hurt, cry, be angry, and struggle to free ourselves from the cocoon of grief. And one day we do emerge – a beautiful butterfly, a stronger person, a more compassionate person, a more understanding person.

by Eunice Brown

"If you could live in my body"

If you could live in my body, just for a day, maybe you wouldn’t think that I feel okay. You might understand what it’s like to be tired by just trying to live, just doing what’s required. If you could live in my body you might begin to see, that a simple drug won’t set me free. If you could live in my skin you’d learn to understand that it’s not in my head, nor was it planned. I don’t want your pity or to make you resent. But I don’t need to apologize, or have your consent. I am sick and I’m tired every single day, and it won’t help to ignore it. So listen when I say: it helps when I relax with a friend and some tea. You can’t understand but please, believe me.

by Beth Turner

The support of family and friends is important to those who have fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions.

We encourage family and friends of a loved one with fibromyalgia to educate themselves about this very real condition. Understanding and acknowledging the condition can be an important first step in providing real encouragement and support.

Fibromyalgia symptoms can be made worse by stress and frustration associated with family members and friends who disassociate themselves from a person with fibromyalgia. Trying to provide solutions can often make things worse. People with fibromyalgia definitely do not want to hear their loved ones say things like “it’s all in your head”, “you just need to get out more” or “you’re just having a bad day.” Comments like those show a complete lack of understanding about the condition and its effects.

From the daughter of a fibromyalgia sufferer : 


Everything that once was changed in the blink of an eye,
Why my mom, just why.
Its an incurable disease that won’t go away,
living with her in our home day after day.
A disease caused by overactive nerves,
Causing destruction as it serves.

Not a day goes by without pain,
Living with fibromyalgia puts all other priorities in the back lane.
Some days we hangout or go to the mall,
But other days we stay home and roll the ball.
One day she’ll be fine not a pain in her head,
The next day in excruciating pain laying in bed.

Day after day, night after night,

Together as one we fight.
Against fibromyalgia the score is always zero,
My mom, well my mom is my hero.


Trying to do my best as a mother and a wife
But this Fibromyalgia Monster has taken over my life

This thorn in my flesh Lord, How can I explain?
I get up every morning though my body is in pain

It’s like a Horrible Flu that just won’t go away
You pray for it to leave you but it’s with you everyday

The energy’s been sucked out, weakness never goes
Nerves feel inflamed from my head down to my toes

Arms burn like fire and what a sinus headache
I feel like I’m 100 but you say I look athletic

Now sensitive to medicines, chemicals

and mold
Legs numb and tingling and Why do I feel cold?

Get worse from the heat till about September
My brain is in a Fog, and there’s words I can’t remember

Spasms in my back, my breathing isn’t right
My bed feels like nails as I lye awake at night

My muscles scream in agony. Oh my gosh don’t touch!
I take my herbs and medicines but they don’t help too much

My immune systems weakened, it seems on overdrive
My vision won’t stay focused and I often stay inside

Lights are too bright, noises are too loud
Unfortunately I’ll get sick again standing in this crowd

Some doctors say “It’s all in your head” or “Oh, You’re just depressed”
“Your fine, just take these crazy pills and get a little rest”

Yes I get down sometimes, upset and so would you
If a truck had just ran over you you’d feel the same way too

The attack of my brain is from infection I’ll bet
This is a neuro immune disease but some don’t know it yet

Trying to do my best as a mother and a wife
But this Fibromyalgia Monster has taken over my life.

by Carolyn White 

Fibro Poetry :

​​May 12 Awareness Day

​​​The Fibromyalgia Ci​rcle of Hope

This Pain

She lives with pain,

Every single day,

There's no escape,

The price she has to pay.

A life of pain,

What she has to face,

The barriers,

Stand so firmly in place.

This constant pain,

Is her bravest flight,

It's a struggle,

Just to do what is right.

Coping with pain,

Is a daily thing,


What the future will bring.

Fighting this pain,

takes power and will,

And courage,

Somehow she stays strong


{ 2009 Jan Brooks}