March is Autoimmune Disease Awareness Month.
Unlike the sea of pink that begins to flow for Breast Cancer Awareness month in October, most of us won’t find our friends all pinning ribbons on, participating in runs, or raising money for our cure in March.
That’s because 90% of people cannot name a single autoimmune disease.
NIH estimates up to 23.5 million Americans have autoimmune diseases. AARDA has stated the number could possibly be found at 50 million since that statistic is only based on 24 out of 100 autoimmune diseases. In comparison, cancer affects up to 22 million and heart disease up to 17.5 million.
Somehow our awareness and advocacy have fallen terribly short.
It is vital to the sufferers of autoimmune disease that awareness is raised.
I can’t emphasize this enough. We MUST raise awareness and advocate.
It’s an awful truth, but nonetheless, a truth, that without awareness we will not find a cure.
If 90% of people can’t name a single autoimmune disease that means that most of the politicians, advocacy groups, investors, educators and other people we need to make a difference in our fight can’t either. We need them to know and they will know because they hear it about it trending.
When a disease is not in the spotlight there is no pressure on the powers that be to invest the resources needed in it for a cure. There is no prestige for them to earn in its solution or in their magnanimous efforts in supporting its solution.
If it’s not generating buzz it will remain a silent epidemic swept under the rug.
Cancer was an issue brought to the attention of the powers that be by the public. Public support for a cure led Nixon to declare that a cure must be found and the government would spare no expense in finding it. The idea that everyone knows someone with cancer made the issue personal but I would wager that with our numbers everyone knows someone with an autoimmune disease too. So why don’t people know anything about them? Autoimmune disease has missed the connection between talking about it with each other and making it a public issue.
You want a cure, I want a cure, but all most of us ever do is
gripe talk about it with each other. I know, other people don’t get it. The whole invisible illness thing is throwing off our momentum and we tend to just keep quiet rather than take on the task of feeling like we need to prove we’re sick. But giving into the silencing of it is undermining our efforts for a cure.
We need to stop worrying about the social stigma talking about our illness creates and start worrying about the ignorance, not talking about it creates.
I don’t want to find myself doing the same thing over and over, hoping for different results.
You want support? Then educate people around you about the problem. We are all only as large as our circle of influence but with at least 23.5 million people educating their circle, imagine the progress we could make!
Awareness matters because a cure matters. If it matters to you then let the world know. We are autoimmune messes and we want a cure!
What do you think? Will we ever see awareness and support like cancer patients have in our lifetime? Do you think awareness can lead to a cure? What would having people around you aware of your disease and rooting for a cure mean to you?