3 Things I Want Everyone to Know During MCS Awareness Month
May has been designated as MCS Awareness Month, and while there aren’t very many events going on other than Niagara Falls and a few businesses in Canada lighting up with blue, purple and green lights (two other illness are recognized at the same time), on May 12 I would like to see that change. I am a big proponent of education and getting the word out about MCS. My hopes are that if enough people learn about MCS we can eventually either end its existence or figure out how to cure it. So, to that end, I present the three things I think everyone should know about MCS.
1. It is a real illness. Too many people, especially medical professionals, think that MCS is either a mental illness or that those of us that have it are faking being sick. Many people don’t realize that some of us can have bizarre reactions to chemicals. Since much of the exposure to chemicals come from the perfumes worn, cleaning products used and air fresheners sprayed by the people around us, it can be an ongoing problem for us to be out in the world. Most of us are doubted by people that either cannot understand how their laundry products could hurt us or by those who just don’t care, declaring that they have a right to wear what they want.
2. It is a debilitating and life-altering illness. Contrary to what many people think, MCS is not allergies. While we have all heard about allergic reactions having deadly consequences, most people associate allergies with a stuffy nose or coughing. MCS is a whole body reaction to the chemicals we are exposed to, and our bodies cannot process and dispose of them like most people’s can. People die from this disease, from the buildup of toxic chemicals in their bodies. By life-altering I mean that our quality of life often goes downhill pretty fast. We become too sick with a disease that few people understand and even fewer can treat to work. We often lose our homes, careers and ability to do the things we love with the people we love. Sadly, it is often due to these things that there is a rather high suicide rate amongst canaries.
3. (And this is the good news!) You can make a difference! There is hope, and you can be a part of that for us. If you know someone who has MCS, don’t doubt their illness. Ask how you can help them and support them while they navigate the day-to-day difficulties of this illness. You can also make the choice to buy (and use) unscented products such as soap, shampoo, laundry products and cleaners, just to name a few. Not only will you be helping us, you will be helping yourself and the environment as well.
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Thinkstock photo via Arthur Zogheib Pinatto – Photos.