Spurred on by a recent multiple sclerosis (MS) prevalence study, which revealed that the number of MS patients in the U.S. is double (nearly one million) what had been previously thought, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society is marking MS Awareness Week by sharing stories of those affected by the disease.
From March 10-16, the society is using the social media hashtag #ThisIsMS to share patient and caregiver narratives, and asks supporters to post the stories on their own platforms.
This year, the society is spotlighting patient strength and resilience, as many MS patients move forward with their lives despite the challenges imposed by the disease.
In one story, Ausjia wrote about her mother Yvette, a mixed martial arts (MMA) official who was diagnosed with MS in 2014. A longtime substitute teacher and Girl Scouts leader, Yvette raised Ausjia and her brother as a single parent.
“I have watched this disease take its toll on her body and her mind, but what it hasn’t been able to do is damage her fighting spirit,” Ausjia wrote. “From muscle weakness to blurred vision, to pain and extreme fatigue, she’s told me that sometimes it feels as though this disease steals the very things that make her feel like a person.”
“Despite all of the pain and fatigue she has endured, my mother never stops trying to make a difference in people’s lives. Sometimes, I think she forgets to slow down and remember the impact that MS is having on her body,” Ausjia added.
Another story focuses on Chris, a MS patient and former competitive triathlete, who talks about the disease’s effect on his running after a lesion was found on his brain. But Chris, who has participated in world championships even after his diagnosis, also speaks of persevering.
“Every time my foot hits the ground, my eyes would jiggle and bounce. And it left me nauseous, when I would go for a run,” he said. “It’s gotten better, but at the same time it’s still there. So, I don’t get nauseous anymore but I still get irritated by it when I have to stop to read a street sign and let my eyes settle down.”
“MS is frustrating, more than anything. MS requires you to change. MS requires you to expect to change. MS is a journey into the unknown. So despite MS, I will keep riding my bike. Despite MS, I’m going to keep being me,” Chris added.
More MS stories are available at this link.
“Strong, persistent and inspiring are just a few of the words that come to mind when we think about people who are living with MS,” Cyndi Zagieboylo, president and CEO of the National MS Society, said in a press release.
“With twice as many people needing a cure, we are more driven and focused in our work so that they can live their best lives,” Zagieboylo added.
According to the National MS Society, actress Selma Blair, who has recently spoken publicly of her MS journey, is proof of the power of sharing stories about the disease.
For more information and to get involved during MS Awareness Week, visit this link.