MS Family and Relationships: 6 Tips for Patients and Loved Ones

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1. With or Without MS, Relationships are Not Easy


All relationships require energy and effort, go through up and downs, and have to face challenges even when there is no disease affecting the family.  But it is almost inevitable that multiple sclerosis (MS) is an additional challenge in a family’s life. A diagnosis of multiple sclerosis does not just affect the patient, but the whole family and recognizing it is the first step to coping with MS in personal interactions. “While MS does pose some additional adversities, it can also enrich relationships and bring people closer together,” state the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. It is also important not to try and compare families and relationships,  or think how it would be without the disease. Each family has its own problems and difficulties.

2. Think Before Disclosing About MS


Deciding who to tell about the multiple sclerosis diagnosis is also something to consider. This is a very personal decision. Some people may want to tell all their family, while others may prefer to tell just their partner and not the rest of family, or in some cases, not telling anyone at all. “Telling others about your MS may be the first thing you want to do — or the last. No two people feel exactly the same about disclosing their MS to others. Keeping in mind that once the information is out there, you can’t take it back, the key is figuring out when disclosure is in your best interest and when it is not.” Patients should also think about what their family members need to understand about the disease once they disclose the diagnosis.

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Leonor Mateus Ferreira is an emerging, young journalist, with a bachelor's degree in Communication and post-graduate degree in Multiplatform Journalism. She is particularly interested in politics and current affairs, and is currently studying for a masters degree in economics and public policies.
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  1. Michael Springer says:

    I told my family that I was diagnosed with MS. Five years after I told my wife about my MS she filed for divorce stating that my medical bills would bankrupt us. My sisters thought MS would kill me and convinced my mother to take me off of her will. The reason? They told my mother that it would make everything simpler but their goal was to keep my children from receiving my share of the inheritance. Not only do we experience rejection from our family members but exploitation as well.

  2. My Mom was with me when I was diagnosed and my family has shown me support and love the entire journey with this MonSter. It breaks my heart to hear of others who do not have support from their loved ones because its not like we asked for this illness. I guess it shows their true colors in the end.

  3. JJ Steiner says:

    I have never had a close relationship with my sisters.. My mom and dad were with me when I was diagnosed and through this trip.. no inheritance to worry about, but, once mom goes, good riddance to sisters

    • Michael Springer says:

      I did not give many qualifiers when I wrote my OP – just did it on the spur of the moment. The inheritance will be based on the valuation of our family home. It will appraise for about $350K. It is bizarre to me that my sisters would want to destroy our family for whatever my share would have been. Take out all of the fees and related expenses and that amount will be closer to $280K. Their goal was to split approximately $70K that would have been mine (or my children’s). Knowing my sisters they will probably brawl over the rest of the money and mother’s personal items.

      I do have the option of challenging them. My mother has dementia. One sister left a recording on my voice mail several years after I disclosed that said “…you should be dead by now.” And another wrote a letter and forged my mother’s name on the letter. The letter said that my mother had lied to me – which is not true. The DA has all of the information and will probably charge them with fraud.

      The primary reason I wrote the OP was to provide an example of how bad things can get when we disclose that we have been diagnosed with MS. I am glad to see that some MSers have supportive families but for those who are not sure you might want to think about how you approach the subject with your family.

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