With summer in full swing, make sure to leave space on your July calendar for Fibroids Awareness Month. From fashion shows to social media events, the White Dress Project —a non-profit organization behind the cause—is working round the clock to bring fibroid awareness to you.

Moving state by state, this grass roots group has one goal in mind—to one day have Fibroids Awareness Month be observed nationally. And according to them, your state could be next.

“Right now, Florida, Georgia, the city of New Orleans, and New York honor Fibroids Awareness Month,” says Tanika Gray Valbrun, Founder and Executive Director of the White Dress Project. “Our most recent accomplishment is that we obtained South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia—which will be officially announced in 2017. Next we’re working on Illinois, Texas, and California.”

To make this possible, everyday men and women who are passionate about women’s health volunteer as White Dress Project Ambassadors. By liaising with state legislators, White Dress Project Ambassadors work toward either passing a resolution to observe Fibroids Awareness Month or, if a state already participates, persuade them to annually renew their pledge.Uterine fibroids affect an estimated 20 to 80 percent of women by age 50. 1 And while these noncancerous growths can exist without symptoms, for some women they can cause heavy irregular bleeding, anemia, painful intercourse, and infertility.

If you’re one of these women, Ms. Gray Valbrun explains, wearing a white dress is rarely ever possible. “We’ve taken a fashion emblem—the white dress—and have made it a symbol of empowerment and hope for women with fibroids.”

By drawing more attention to the disease, the White Dress Project hopes for more public recognition that can lead to a cure—especially since 600,000 hysterectomies are performed annually in the US alone, with approximately 70 percent done to treat noncancerous conditions like fibroids. 2,3

On July 1st, the White Dress Project kicks off Fibroids Awareness Month by launching its Join the Fight campaign. “To prepare for this, we had a photo shoot with nearly 20 women—each wearing a white dress and boxing gloves. All of them shared their fibroid stories,” Gray Valbrun tells Ask4UFE. “Our message is that we’re going to knock out fibroids and we’re going to fight for legislation, research, and funding.”

During the second week in July, a Facebook LIVE question and answer chat will be offered where women can ask their fibroid questions to some of the nation’s leading doctors. Closing out the month, the White Dress Project has joined with Bloomingdales to host a white dress fashion show on July 27th in Atlanta. To keep up to date with all events and news, women can also follow the White Dress Project on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

It can’t be denied, the White Dress Project knows how to accomplish its goals with style, but Ms. Gray Valbrun stresses this shouldn’t overshadow the overall mission—which is to promote fibroid awareness and offer support to women who suffer from the disease.

“We’re not just a fashion or social organization,” Gray Valbrun emphasizes. “For many, a white dress may simply be something sexy to wear. For us, it signifies more. It says, ‘We all can wear white. Fibroids will not leave us hopeless. This epidemic will not get the best of us.’”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Alicia Armeli is a Health Freelance Writer, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, and Certified Holistic Life Coach. She has master’s degrees in English Education and Nutrition. Through her writing, she empowers readers to live optimally by building awareness surrounding issues that impact health and wellbeing. In addition to writing, she enjoys singing, traveling abroad and volunteering in her community.

REFERENCES
1. US Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health. (2015). Uterine Fibroids Fact Sheet. Retrieved June 21, 2016 from http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/uterine-fibroids.html

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). Women’s Reproductive Health: Hysterectomy. Retreived June 21, 2016 from http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/data_stats/

3. Corona, L. E., Swenson, C. W., Sheetz, K. H., et al. (2015). Use of other treatments before hysterectomy for benign conditions in a statewide hospital collaborative. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 212(3): 304. e1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2014.11.031