THE EDITOR: World Multiple Sclerosis Day was celebrated by various entities around the globe on May 30. The day was initiated by the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation (MSIF) and its members in 2009. It is recognised as a day to come together to celebrate the resilience of those living with MS, to connect with others fighting for a common cause and to raise awareness of the condition.
Multiple sclerosis is a complex auto-immune, neurological condition. It initially affects the coverings of the brain and spinal cord (the myelin sheath) and eventually destroys cells of the nervous system. There are many among us battling this condition head on. They experience a range of symptoms from severe pain, incontinence, loss of balance, loss of sensation in various parts of the body and, in some cases, even paralysis.
The availability of medication needed to effectively treat the condition remains a continuous struggle. I am told that a drug called Ocrevus, which is internationally recognised to treat primary progressive MS (PPMS), is currently unavailable in local pharmacies. Given the degenerative nature of PPMS, this is of major concern. Further, the high cost of medication in general makes obtaining effective treatment financially prohibitive to many patients.
Yet one thing rings true among those with whom I have had the pleasure to interact. They are resilient! Their strength amid suffering is truly remarkable and an inspiration to us all. They are determined to walk, determined to fulfil their God-given purpose in life, determined to use their skills and talents to contribute to humanity in a meaningful way.
Recently I had an engaging conversation with an MS patient and she said to me, “Ceronne, I am not my MS.” They are raising children, running businesses, painting, teaching, completing degree programmes and doing it all with a smile. It is this tenacity that allows them to win the war against MS every day of their lives.
I commend the work of the Multiple Sclerosis Support Foundation in this fight. I recently read the personal stories of some MS patients on their website www.mssftt.org and could not help but be moved by them.
As the rest of us face our own personal struggles, even in the midst of a global pandemic, I think we can look to our brothers and sisters living with MS as examples; examples of how to tap into the strength that we may not have known that we had, and to rise above any adversity that may come our way.