For the past eight years, May 12th has been designated as International Awareness Day for Chronic Immunological and Neurological Diseases (CIND). These diseases include ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, the term used in most of the world)/CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, the term used in the United States), Fibromyalgia Syndrome, Gulf War Syndrome and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome. They have been combined under the umbrella of CIND based on existing research and commonality of symptoms.

Plans for this year's May 12th International Awareness Day for fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and related illnesses are in full swing. CFS patient Tom Hennessy, president of R.E.S.C.I.N.D., gave birth to the idea of Awareness Day in 1992. The May 12th date was chosen to honor the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the English army nurse who was a pioneer of the Red Cross Movement. Nightingale was virtually bedridden with a painful and fatiguing illness resembling FM/CFS, yet went on to inspiring accomplishments, including the founding of the first School of Nursing.

Now Awareness Day activities take place worldwide in an effort to increase awareness of FM and allow patients and organizations to educate the general public, healthcare professionals and government officials. One of the most difficult aspects of having FM/CFS is that most of the symptoms are invisible, which makes it hard for others to understand what living with this debilitating illness is really like. That's one of the reasons that Awareness Day is so important.