Do you think fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome can be cured? Certainly, some people who used to be seriously disabled from them are now living symptom free. Some say they're cured, while others say they're in remission.
So which terminology is correct? Right now, there's really no way of knowing. In the absence of reliable diagnostic tests, we can't prove that anyone has these conditions. To me, that means we can't prove someone doesn't have them, so I'm not comfortable using the word "cure." Sure, it's possible that someone who once had high Epstein-Barr titers, for example, may have test results showing levels have dropped significantly, and there may even be signs that the immune system is working efficiently (i.e., normalized T-cell and NK levels), but we don't know what might happen down the road if that person comes down with a serious viral infection -- will it trigger a relapse?
I've been called a pessimist for saying I don't agree with using "cure." I call it realism. How often have all of us started feeling a little better, especially early on, and gotten our hopes up that our illness was going away? I remember how emotionally devastating it was when symptoms came flooding back. I think it's safer for me to consider myself in a long-term remission, because then I'm leaving myself open to the possibility that fibro will strike again. Also, if I think my illness is truly gone, I'll lose the incentive to keep doing the things that keep me healthy, thereby possibly causing a relapse.
Once we've got a test that proves we have these conditions, we may be able to tell whether someone is truly cured. Until then, I'll stick with remission, and I'll keep working to maintain mine.
Which term do you think is best to describe someone who's become symptom free? Do you think some people have actually been cured? Have you thought your illness was gone, only to have it return? Leave your comments below!
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