As 2012 comes to a close, it is time to look back at accomplishments and look forward to 2013 with its new challenges and goals. This year the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association (NFMCPA) has been busy and has grown in numbers of constituents and Facebook Fans.
Many of this year’s NFMCPA activities have been reported, but there are some accomplishments that you may not be aware of. These achievements include the day-in and day-out, minute-by-minute communication with people looking for help, via the NFMCPA website, phones, mail and email. Listening to people with fibromyalgia ask how do they find help; how do they get disability; what doctor is the right one and how do they find him/her; how do they find a support group; how do they start and lead a support group; is alternative medicine the best way to achieve improvement in their symptoms; are all medications bad; what do they tell their friends, family and employers about fibromyalgia; and many other questions.
The staff and volunteers have feelings of accomplishment when they can offer resources and answers that assist people who are so desperately searching for help. More often than not, we are able to direct people to our website or point them in the right direction to find answers. Sometimes the accomplishments include being in the right place at the right time to be a voice for people with fibromyalgia and chronic pain when they can’t personally represent themselves, such as when Jan Chambers, President of the NFMCPA personally submitted written fibromyalgia testimony to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee earlier this year. Another example includes Jan’s appointment to serve on the U.S.Food and Drug Administration’s Drug Safety and Risk Management public advisory committee, which will meet in early 2013 to make recommendations concerning medications to treat people with chronic pain.
This year’s NFMCPA Fibromyalgia Awareness Day campaign successfully helped create advocacy programs around the U.S. and internationally. The creation and listing of the Guide to Creating Local Fibromyalgia Awareness Events on the NFMCPA website was part of a concerted effort to help people learn how to successfully develop and execute local fibromyalgia awareness events. Event forms can be located at www.fmcpaware.org under the Community tab, scroll down to Awareness Day and then in the menu on the left hand side of that page.
In November the NFMCPA held their first Leaders Against Pain (LAP) training program in Washington, DC, which included 20 new LAPs who will work with the NFMCPA to advance fibromyalgia advocacy.
In September fibromyalgia was represented at the PAINWeek meeting by the NFMCPA and again in October at the American College of Rheumatology meeting.
In 2012 the pain community lost several of its effective advocacy nonprofit organizations, including the American Pain Foundation. The hole left by the demise of these groups is hard to fill and difficult to replace. The NFMCPA is committed to offering resources and information to those people in pain who are searching for help.
In 2013 the NFMCPA hopes to continue to be the voice and source of information for the fibromyalgia and chronic pain communities. It will offer May 12 Fibromyalgia Awareness Day and September Pain Awareness Month activities and strive to be more active in the pursuit of better treatments, more physician education, research funding and the creation and sharing of resources. We are actively seeking funding for next year’s Leaders Again Pain training which we hope to expand to include more people. We will be a presence at the PAINWeek and ACR meetings as well as several other medical conferences, if funding is available. Jan and other NFMCPA leaders will continue to be a voice for people with fibromyalgia and chronic pain and the website will expand to include a Research Funding area.
We look forward to next year and what we will be able to accomplish on your behalf.