Guest Author - Heather C. Guidone
The States of Pennsylvania and Michigan have both joined California in passing official Endometriosis Awareness Resolutions. These acts come on the heels of the National Resolution calling for increased awareness of the disease, H. Con. Res. 291, which was unanimously passed by the 107th Congress of the United States on October 1, 2002.
The General Assembly of Pennsylvania passed House Resolution 707, introduced by Representative Dennis O'Brien and supported by numerous co-sponsors, in late October. The Resolution officially designates the month of March 2003 as "Endometriosis Awareness Month" in Pennsylvania, in conjunction with the ERC's anniversary. ERC Special Projects Director and Legislative Awareness Committee Member Kimberly Latona began work on House Resolution 707 with Representative O'Brien last summer. HR 707 recognizes that "Endometriosis can have a debilitating impact on a woman's life and her relationships, in some cases rendering her unable to work, to care for herself or her family or to follow her normal routine."
As outlined in HR 707, "ERC Casual Days" and other fundraising and awareness efforts are held annually during the month of March in celebration of the ERC's anniversary. "The goal of these events is to educate the general public about the significance of Endometriosis, to support and assist those living with the disease, and to raise funds for research, support and educational efforts concerning Endometriosis," said ERC Executive Director Michelle Marvel. "We are delighted that the State of Pennsylvania has recognized the significant need for widespread awareness about this disease, which affects more woman than breast cancer."
The General Assembly of Michigan recently passed House Resolution 545, which was introduced by Representative Paul DeWeese, M.D. and supported by numerous co-sponsors. The Resolution officially recognizes the needs for promotion of Endometriosis awareness, and "supports the Endometriosis Research Center on its cause to eradicate this painful disease."
Nicole VanZwoll, Leader of the ERC's Lansing, MI Support Group and member of the ERC's Legislative Awareness Committee, began working on Resolution 545 earlier this year with Representative DeWeese, who is also a physician.
Endometriosis is a painful disease affecting over 5 million women and teens in the United States alone, with an estimated 80 million more worldwide. With Endometriosis, pieces of the uterine lining migrate outside the uterus and grow abnormally. Stigmatized as "painful periods," Endometriosis is more than just killer cramps. The disease is also a leading cause of female infertility and hysterectomy. Symptoms include pain with or without menstruation, infertility, pain associated with intercourse, gastrointestinal difficulties, fatigue, allergies and other immune system dysfunction. Studies have also shown an elevated risk of certain cancers and autoimmune disorders in those with Endometriosis. Currently, Endometriosis can only be definitively diagnosed via surgery, and there is no absolute cure.
The ERC is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded by Executive Director Michelle E. Marvel in early 1997 to address the growing needs of the international Endometriosis community. The ERC helps improve the quality of life for those with the disease through their International support programs, including nearly 45 in-person support groups and hosting the Internet's largest electronic Endometriosis support group; provides practitioners, patients and all those interested in the disease with extensive educational materials; raises awareness about Endometriosis; works with legislators to facilitate proper funding for Endometriosis research; assists medical industry leaders with developmental studies and data collection on the disease; and lobbies the National Institutes of Heath and similar foundations in support of various research grants. The ERC is currently implementing their latest program for Professionals, designed to encourage global collaboration and advance the study and treatment of Endometriosis. Unlike similar women's health organizations, the organization is unique in that it is not fee-based. The ERC exists solely on the donations and contributions of concerned individuals and organizations that share the ERC's vision of helping women with Endometriosis--and of someday finding a cure for the disease.
The ERC has been instrumental in other Endometriosis-related legislation, including State-level Awareness Resolutions and health-related Bills.