November 1, 2017
Every patient organization needs an Awareness Day they can call their own. We celebrate Rare Disease Day on the last day of February and share the spotlight with 7,000 other rare diseases. However, PRP Awareness Month gives us 30 days to crow like a banty rooster, shake our tail feathers and get more than our fair share of attention. — Bill McCue
My first PRP Awareness Day was November 28, 2012 and quite “unofficial” by any standards. It began with a phone call from my dermatologist’s office. I was told that the red spot on my forehead on August 8 — nearly four months prior — had been the onset of pityriasis rubra pilaris. Like most PRP “newbies”, I spent the next few days searching the internet and learning what little there was to learn about PRP. What I found was redundant, insufficient, outdated, and typically written for an audience of healthcare professionals.
On November 1, 2013, I celebrated PRP Awareness Day once again. This time I sent out over 1,500 emails to PRP patients and caregivers and called the effort the PRP Worldwide Census. It had taken me several months during the previous summer to review over 29,000 emails in the PRP Support Group Archive going back to November, 1997. As I collected email addresses I also harvested “core” information about the onset, diagnosis, and treatment of PRP. It took six months to solicit 500 responses. That was the genesis of the PRP Community Database.
November 6, 2014 was the first “official” observance of PRP Awareness Day. The date was selected to commemorate the signing of the Rare Diseases Act of 2002 that set the threshold for a rare disease. A rare disease or disorder is defined in the U.S. as one affecting fewer than 200,000 Americans. Using the European standard, however, the U.S. threshold would be only 160,000. Today there are more than 7,000 known rare diseases, and it is estimated that about 30 million Americans are affected by them.
November 6-8, 2015 was the first “official” observance of PRP Awareness Weekend since the 6th fell on a Friday. The “Big Event” would be a global Meet & Greet. Whether face to face or using technology (FaceTime, Skype and ooVoo) we pitched the idea to the PRP Facebook Support Group. Other than a few face-to-face Meet & Greets and a spike in Facetime encounters, the effort missed it’s mark. Lesson learned.
November 1-30, 2016 was the first “official” observance of PRP Awareness Month. Perhaps all we needed was 30 days rather than a weekend or a day. Sunday, November 6th was selected to host a 24-hour GoToMeeting gathering. Only the predictable and dependable cadre of seasoned PRP travelers stopped by to chat.
An important lesson has been learned over the past five years. If you run the same flag up the flagpole, the same people are going to salute. We’re going to try something different.
✔︎ Revive the PRP Community newsletter
✔︎ Launch the PRP Worldwide Census
✔︎ Execute the Rare Skin Disease Referral Initiative
✔︎ Initiate PRP Surveys
✔︎ Recruit participants for PRP research
✔︎ Promote legislative advocacy
✔︎ Support the PRP Alliance.
PRP Awareness Month Begins Today: OTR025.1