Happy World MS Day! Multiple Sclerosis, also known as MS, is a chronic, unpredictable neurological disease that affects the central nervous system (source).
MS is a disease that I am very familiar with. When I was in high school, my mom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I had never really heard of MS before so I wasn’t sure what to think. She made the point to reassure my sister and I that she would not die from the disease, but it would slowly degenerate her mind and body. Knowing that she wouldn’t die made me feel a little better, but I still didn’t know what it meant to live with this disease. It wasn’t until I returned from 4 years away at college, that I would come to understand how it affected her body. When I moved home, her energy levels were low, she often repeated herself, and she didn’t remember things well. Watching her go from the high energy person to someone who easily fatigued was hard for me to grasp, especially since she looked fine.
The difference between MS and other diseases is that no two people have the same experience. It looks very different from person to person. MS can cause various symptoms, such as blurry vision, numbness, loss of balance, poor coordination, extreme fatigue, and problems with memory and concentration, along with paralysis and blindness. These problems can come and go, otherwise known as flare-ups (source).
Watching my mom’s disease worsen continues to be heart breaking. While you can’t really tell that she has MS when you look at her, as you listen to her speak sometimes and walk, you can see how it has affected her in both mind and body.
MS occurs in more women than men, but anyone can be diagnosed with it. Children as young as 2 years old have developed the disease. While it is not fatal, as the diagnosis progresses throughout their lifetime, many develop limited productivity.
World MS Day was established in 2009 as a global awareness campaign to provide information regarding MS and the 2 million plus people living with MS. Progress is being made to treating and understanding MS, but there is no cure yet. However, there are FDA-approved medications that have been shown to “modify” or slow down the course of MS, and there are various therapeutic and technological advances that aid in managing symptoms (source). Learn how you can spread the word about the 1000 faces of MS on the World MS Day website, Twitter, or Facebook.
If you are living with MS, living with someone who has MS, or know someone who has MS, please take the time and create a postcard on the World MS Day 2012 website. Take a look at mine. Maybe it will inspire you to share your story and join the 1000 faces of MS.
Are you or anyone you know living with Multiple Sclerosis? What is your story?
In addition to our first event, the March of Dimes, Chelsea (my co-founder) and I have chosen the National Awareness Months and foundations that we are going to support for the remainder of the year.
Here is a list of our awareness months for the year:
April: Autism Awareness Month, STD Awareness Month
May: Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month, Lupus Awareness Month
June: Gay/Lesbian Pride Month
July: Multiple Sclerosis Society, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
September: Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
October: National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
November: Alzheimer Awareness Month
December: Born This Way Foundation
Stay tuned for how you can support these amazing causes!