By Donna Summerall
March begins Multiple Sclerosis awareness month. For those living with MS, support groups are a lifeline to other individuals who understand the difficulties the disease presents. Family, friends and those who have MS, met Friday at the Education Room of North Mississippi Medical Center to show their support for the upcoming MS Walk, April 5 in Starkville.
MS is a disease of the Central Nervous System that affects the brain and spinal cord. Early MS symptoms include weakness, tingling, numbness and blurred vision, other signs are muscle stiffness, thinking problems and urinary problems. It is a disease that attacks people in their 20s and early 30s. Treatment can relieve MS symptoms and delay disease progression.
“I love working with the Multiple Sclerosis Society,” said Tuwanna Williams, vice president of Community and Volunteer Engagement with the MSS. “I love the concept of service to others. Working with the MSS gives me the opportunity to get out in the community and inform them of the needs of the MSS. We are excited about the upcoming walk and are thrilled for it to take place in the Golden Triangle.”
Jan Bell, president of the Mississippi and Alabama chapters of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, was pleased with the attendance at NMMC. Twenty-two people who either have MS or have a family member or friend with the disease came to show their support for the walk. They came from all over Clay County to stand by their loved ones, and Bell said she was amazed at how many showed up.
“We want to make life better for those who wake up everyday with MS,” said Bell. “I meet people all the time who have never heard of MS and mistake it for Muscular Dystrophy. I have to tell them we are not Jerry's Kids. We need to inform as many people as possible about what MS is and what they can do to help.”
Bell said many strides in research have taken place in the last 20 years. Before, the only treatment was steroid shots, which only relieved inflammation associated with the disease. Now there are many medical options available to help people with MS to live as normal a life as possible, Bell said. MS walks help raise money to make sure research and development of medicines continue until a cure is found.
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