Today is World MS Day. Some people still don’t know what MS is, even though it effects one of my family members, one of my co-workers, and hundreds of thousands of Canadians. There are 291 cases of MS per 100,000 people in our country. For some reason, Canada has more cases of Multiple Sclerosis than any other country in the world. Researchers are trying to determine why, and that’s where fundraising and support comes in.
Today, I’m thinking about one of my heroes. Andrea Dunn, Dunner, who’s name you probably recognize from the FM96 Afternoon Show, which she hosted before moving to mornings at our sister station Country 104. While hosting the show back in June of 2010, she was diagnosed with MS.
Since then, she’s championed 6 MS Walks with Team Dunner, we conquered the MS Bike Ride last summer which was a blast, and she works out like a BEAST daily because exercise makes her feel so much better while she’s dealing with this autoimmune disease. You gotta hand it to her, she’s inspiring others to live a better life with MS while she’s doing that herself, while fundraising and doing so much more to spread awareness.
Today, for World MS Day, the MS Society of Canada will match your donation, meaning double the money for research! Click the image below if you can afford to donate
The MS Bike ride between London & Grand Bend happens July 23rd & 24th, watch for Team Dunner!
People are becoming more comfortable sharing their experiences in the disease, like Jack Osbourne, son of Ozzy. He wrote this for People:
Multiple Sclerosis. Two words that changed my life forever.
When I learned I had relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis four years ago, it was the scariest moment of my life. I was only 26 years old, I had just become a father and I thought my whole life was in front of me – but there I was, being told I had an incurable and often debilitating illness. I had so many emotions and so many questions, and, frankly, I was terrified of the unknown.
Today is World MS Day, and I’m proud to say I’m doing okay. I certainly learned a lot since my diagnosis, and I am thankful to have been welcomed by this inspiring community where I can now pay it forward through my work on the You Don’t Know Jack About MS campaign, in partnership with Teva Pharmaceuticals. As I reflect back, there’s a lot I want to share about my experience to hopefully help others.
After I was diagnosed, I turned to my family first, and then to the Internet. I tried to gather as much information as I possibly could on what MS is, how it manifests and what that would mean for me. I was overwhelmed, and it was a lot to process and digest. My family was an incredible support system for me, helping me understand and wrap my head around the disease, and to them I am forever grateful.
Whether you’re living with MS or not, the most important thing to realize is that knowledge is power. In my eyes, the more people who know what MS really is, the better. People with MS can live normal or near-normal lives. By simply understanding more about this disease and spreading the word, you can be a great advocate for yourself and others.
Looking forward, I would like to remove the stigma associated with the disease that has prevented so many people from pursuing their dreams. Unfortunately, it’s still very common for people who are suffering with MS to keep it very secretive. Especially in their place of work. It’s days like today that can help change all of that – share your story and let’s band together to encourage one another to keep after our dreams.
In my eyes, World MS Day is just as much about our family and friends as it is about everyone living with MS. It’s not just individuals who can suffer. My wife and kids are my reason for wanting to endure whatever this disease throws at me. They are with me through thick and thin, and vice versa. So many caregivers and family members make such a selfless sacrifice in order to help make a life possible for many people living with MS. They are the heroes to me, in this battle. So to all my family and friends who had supported me and been there for me, I’d like to say thank you, I love you. This day is for you as well.
I will never say that I am thankful for MS, but I will say that without MS, I don’t know if I would have made the necessary changes in my life that have changed me for the better. I believe that one day we will all celebrate a cure together, and what a day that will be.
More about MS:
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is thought to be an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord). The disease attacks myelin, the protective covering of the nerves, causing inflammation and often damaging the myelin. Myelin is necessary for the transmission of nerve impulses through nerve fibres. If damage to myelin is slight, nerve impulses travel with minor interruptions; however, if damage is heavy and if scar tissue replaces the myelin, nerve impulses may be completely disrupted, and the nerve fibres themselves can be damaged.
MS can cause symptoms such as extreme fatigue, lack of coordination, weakness, tingling, impaired sensation, vision problems, bladder problems, cognitive impairment and mood changes.
What causes MS?
Despite decades of research, the cause remains a mystery. The best current evidence suggests that lifestyle, environmental, genetic and biological factors all contribute. All these areas are being actively examined. Studies funded by the MS Society are asking if certain risk factors, such as gender, age, family history or lifestyle habits impact a person’s susceptibility to MS.
Who gets MS?
MS can occur at any age, but is usually diagnosed between the ages of 15 to 40, peak years for education, career- and family-building. MS has been diagnosed in children as young as two years old – and in far older adults. It has some peculiarities: MS is three times as likely to occur in women as in men and is more common in people of northern European background.
How is MS diagnosed?
MS often develops slowly, and the symptoms may not appear right away. Upon initial symptoms, a person’s family doctor will refer him or her to a neurologist, who will conduct a full medical history and a neurological examination to assess things like eye moment, strength and coordination. To reach a confirmed diagnosis of MS, the neurologist may employ additional tests, including a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan which looks for tissue damage in the brain.
The severity of MS, progression and specific symptoms cannot be predicted at the time of diagnosis.
Is there hope for a cure?
Absolutely. Researchers are zeroing in on what causes MS and exploring ways to repair the damage it causes and ways to prevent MS from occurring. The MS Society of Canada and its related MS Scientific Research Foundation fund investigation into many aspects of the disease including:
- Progression/therapies – Examines current or potential therapies for MS and seeks to improve imaging technology to better visualize what happens in the brain.
- Cause/risk factors – Investigates potential triggers of MS and why some factors may increase susceptibility to MS.
- Nerve damage/repair – Focuses on the cellular mechanisms that result in either damage or repair of myelin and underlying nerve cells.
- Symptom management/quality of life – Probes how MS affects day-to-day living and develops treatments that more effectively manage symptoms.