Community Health Leaders
Last updated: December 2023
In order to stay up to date on latest treatments, drug discovery, clinical studies and how to manage MS every day, MultipleSclerosis.net brings you frequent articles, blogs, points of view, and advice from health leaders and professional medical experts.
Current health leaders
Fredric is a communications major and graphic designer from Sweden. A few months shy of graduating from college, he was initially wrongfully diagnosed with PPMS in 2015. Through a second opinion, the diagnosis changed to RRMS. Read more.
Jenny was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2014. It was a heavy hit: her social life, all artwork, sports and athletics, as well as most of her career ended. The symptoms were overwhelming both in body and brain and she was hospitalized soon after diagnosis for several weeks. Read more.
Alene L. Brennan, RYT
Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2016, Alene knows first-hand what it’s like to live, and rise above, a chronic illness as well as debilitating migraines. After her own health transformation, she coaches individuals around the world to manage multiple sclerosis, migraine and other chronic illnesses through diet and lifestyle. Read more.
Cathy Chester was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1987, but has lived with MS symptoms since 1981. Now in her fifties, her philosophy is life is precious and should be lived to the fullest each and every day. She views her MS as merely a small part of who she is as a person. Some days are better than others, but each day is a gift and one she cherishes dearly. Read more.
I am a 60-year-old attorney and part-time professor at Montclair State University and Ramapo College in New Jersey. My wife Cathy, a healthcare blogger and MultipleSclerosis.net contributor, has been battling relapsing-remitting MS throughout our 30-year marriage. This has dramatically altered our roles, as it has for many spouses (and children) of those with chronic illnesses. Read more.
Dan and Jennifer Digmann
Dan and Jennifer demonstrate two different faces of Multiple Sclerosis. Jennifer was diagnosed in 1997 and has secondary-progressive MS. Dan was diagnosed in 2000 and has relapsing-remitting MS. The Michigan couple met at a National Multiple Sclerosis Society event in 2002, were married in 2005 and have dedicated their lives to MS activism and helping others to live their best life. Read more.
Having taken turns writing for radio and reference books, then cranking out an unbearably serious first novel—Kim Dolce is now exploring the lighter side of life: Coping with MS. After her first MS attack in 1999, Kim was diagnosed with Relapsing-Remitting MS in 2005 at the age of 48. She maintained a wall of terrified, grief-stricken silence about her disease until 2009, when she found an online MS patient forum she liked. Read more.
Lisa Emrich is a patient advocate who has been helping patients educate and empower themselves since 2008. After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2005, Lisa learned firsthand the challenges of navigating the healthcare and insurance systems as a self-employed freelance musician in Washington, DC, performing on horn and piano. She uses her experience to educate patients and encourage them to take an active role in their own health care. Read more.
Matt Allen G
Matt Allen G was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in August of 2010 at the age of 20. He immediately decided to start blogging about his journey in hopes of helping others in similar situations. Read more.
Amy Lynn Hubbard, PhD
During graduate courses in neuroscience at UCLA 15 years ago, never did I ever imagine that—in the not-too-distant future—I would be looking at an MRI of permanent damage in my own brain. In 2011, at age 36, I had my first full-on MS attack. Read more.
Rebecca Ironside, MSPT
Becca Ironside works as a pelvic floor physical therapist. One of her keen interests is working with people to address neurogenic bowel and bladder concerns. Read more.
Moyna John is a multiple sclerosis advocate & freelance blogger. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in December 2019. Moyna is passionate about adding representation within the MS community, creating space for Black MS warriors, and empowering modern women to live a purposeful lifestyle outside of chronic illness. Read more.
A few years back, Laura Kolaczkowski recognized that in the rapidly-changing world of e-health, research skills are one of the best tools an internet-informed patient can possess. She had a heart attack in 2008, and even though she was happy with her medical team, she found there were still many unanswered questions that the normal office visit time didn’t allow to be addressed, and she turned to the internet to further understand her experiences. Read more.
Mariah Zebrowski Leach
Mariah is a writer and patient advocate who lives in Colorado with her husband and two young sons. Diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in the middle of law school, Mariah now uses her law degree to help people with chronic health issues. Read more.
Nicole Lemelle is a writer, an activist, and a person living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2000 and lived relatively symptom free for years. In 2009 an exacerbation hospitalized her for three weeks. This event forced her to retire from her dream job at the age of 34 and find a new passion. She began writing and working within the MS community. Read more.
Therry Neilsen-Steinhardt's the name, and I'm a 71 year old Artist, active Presbyterian Adult Sunday School teacher and cat Mom living the dream in Roanoke VA. I had my first MS symptoms in 1978, with urinary symptoms that came and went, and followed me from doctor to doctor for three years until a savvy internist sent me to a neurologist who punctured my spine and informed me that I had a demyelinating disease. Read more.
At the age of 25, Debbie Petrina’s life with MS began in 1980 that she dubs the “MS Dark Ages”. Like others with MS, she “looks so good” despite the antagonistic invisible symptoms that endure. She chose to live predominately in a wheelchair since the late 90’s, but as she puts it, she has “a mouth and a brain” to do whatever she wants. Common sense prevails in her decisions. Read more.
Mary Pettigrew is a freelance writer/blogger and patient advocate from Dallas, Texas. Her writing style is somewhat eclectic in nature. She enjoys writing poetry, prose, essay, narrative interviews, journalism, and more. Read more.
Brittany Quiroz - better known as “A Hot MS” - is a multiple sclerosis advocate, speaker, writer, and content creator. Quiroz continues to build her brand of “A Hot MS” in the multiple sclerosis community to empower, educate, and encourage others living with the disease to keep pushing
Hey MSFits, Spoonies, and assorted cool people! My name is Sarah. I have been living with MS for 10 years. I live in So Cal with my Hubs and two tweenagers. I love road trips and traveling. I enjoy watching musicals in person, or on Netflix on repeat. Read more.
Kathy Reagan Young
Kathy Reagan Young is the founder of the off-center, slightly off-color website and podcast at www.FUMSnow.com. She and her husband T.J., daughters Maggie Mae and Reagan, and their dogs Snickers and Rascal live in southern Virginia, and all say “FUMS” everyday!
Michael Russell was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2009 after a five-year-long medical journey of tests, therapy, and doctor visits. Being diagnosed at age 54 and looking back at his physical changes over the years he feels MS may have begun in the mid to late ’80s. Read more.
Samantha is a Chronic Illness Guide, Creator and Certified Patient Leader who has been living with multiple sclerosis for over 17 years. She uses her education (BS in Pharmaceutical Sciences and MS in Nutrition) and lived experience to inform and empower others with chronic illness. Read more.
Hello. I’m Dianne and I have MS. Lol…that pretty much sounds like an introduction at an AA meeting, but in actuality, officially as of 7/13/07, my diagnosis date, that became my truth. However, MS doesn’t define me because who I am is a proud Christian, African American woman that’s a strong and courageous single mother of 2, a loving, devoted daughter, sister, auntie and a loyal friend that happens to have Multiple Sclerosis. Read more.
Mitch Sturgeon has been living with primary progressive multiple sclerosis since 2001. He is the founder of EnjoyingTheRide.com, a blog where he writes essays about living a contented life despite significant disability. Mitch has been a wheelchair user since 2008. Read more.
Anita Williams is the Principal Strategist and owner of The Beta Pond, LLC. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2014. As Co-Chair of the Engagement Committee, Ms. Williams is involved in the outreach and engagement efforts of iConquerMS. Read more.
Dixie Willis, MA, LPCC, NCC
Dixie Willis is a Licensed Professional Counselor Candidate in the state of Colorado, National Certified Counselor, Reiki Master, Medium, Meditation teacher, Shamanic practitioner, Spiritual guide, Life Coach and founder of Bridge Counseling and Healing, LLC and bridgecounselingandhealing.com. She has a daughter, Trinity and son, Lex. Read more.
Teresa Wright-Johnson is indeed a heart that MatterS. Born with a heart murmur and an aortic valve defect, she has fought heart disease for her entire life. Teresa identifies as a Survivor and proudly shares her story. She was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2014 and added to the title of Survivor is Warrior. Read more.
Hi, my name is Calie and I am a 25 year old wife and momma to an extremely rambunctious little boy! I was diagnosed with Relapse-Remitting MS when I was 14 years old. After coming to terms with the diagnosis at such a young age, I was completely overcome with shame, guilt, and fear. To be honest, I was terrified. I couldn't believe that my body had betrayed me like that and that I had a disease. An incurable one at that. Read more.
Kathy Reagan Young
Kathy Reagan Young is the founder of the off-center, slightly off-color website and podcast at www.FUMSnow.com. Read more.
Former health leaders
Dave Bexfield – ActiveMSers
Dave Bexfield is the founder of www.ActiveMSers.org, a website designed to help, motivate and inspire those with multiple sclerosis to stay as active as possible—physically, intellectually and socially—regardless of physical limitations. Established when Dave was diagnosed in 2006, ActiveMSers has helped hundreds of thousands of people with MS from around the world through its encouraging website, blog, Twitter feed, Facebook page, Instagram pics, and discussion forum. His motto: Be active, stay fit and keep exploring! Read more.
Stephanie Buxhoeveden, MSCN, FNP-BC
Stephanie lives in Virginia with her husband, Michael, and their two fur babies. She is a Nurse Practitioner, fitness enthusiast, and self proclaimed science nerd. At the age of 25 she achieved her longtime goal of getting accepted into a graduate program for Nurse Anesthesia. However, during her second semester she suddenly lost all sensation in both legs and her right arm. After ignoring her symptoms for an embarrassingly long amount of time she finally went to the emergency room and ended up being admitted as a patient for the next seven days. An MRI and a spinal tap cut what she thought was her dream career in Anesthesia short before it even started. However, instead of letting that be the end of her story it is only the beginning. Read more.
I started to have M.S. symptoms that were really noticeable in 2011. We just thought that I was getting even more clumsier than normal. Walking in to stationary objects, my eyes would move back and forth rapidly, (nystagmus.) and finally falling so hard that it was more like being pushed. It wasn't until the symptoms became so bad that I went to the neurologist and was diagnosed. Read more.
Christie is a number crunching photographer who loves riding really fast on her bicycle and happens to live with Multiple Sclerosis. Although initially diagnosed in 2009 with Clinically Isolated Syndrome (CIS), Christie got the official MS nod a year later after MRIs revealed new lesions. Read more.
Jeanne Hecht, MPA, PMP
Jeanne Hecht is Senior Vice President and Global Head of Site and Patient Networks at Quintiles, a position she was appointed to in October 2014. In this role, Jeanne is responsible for leading, implementing, and driving a site and patient network-centric global strategy that leverages leading-edge technology. Read more.
My experience with MS goes back to childhood, well before my own diagnosis. My grandfather (and his father before him) suffered from MS and eventually became completely disabled. Then one winter day in college, I woke up and fell flat on my face. I proceeded to have trouble walking and standing the rest of the day until suddenly I couldn’t use my legs anymore. I was hospitalized and my doctors ran numerous tests before confirming what seemed obvious to my family: I had MS. Read more.
Nikki is a crafty wife who loves to knit, sew, and DIY to make her home cute and functional (all as inexpensively as possible). She is a city-born gal who now lives on the edge of the country with her family and hopes to be a farm gal ASAP! She is an artist and outdoor enthusiast whenever possible. She and her husband don’t have any kids yet, but have some wonderful critters that keep them busy, not to mention entertained. Her life was changed by an MS diagnosis at the age of 19 but she has learned that it doesn’t rule her life and now her goal is to help others through her own experiences.
Emily Martin is…not sure how to update her bio. Some facts are still the same: When her youngest son was just 3 months old, a severe case of optic neuritis in March 2010 led to her multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis at the age of 31. Following the end of her 14-year marriage, she found herself divorced and entirely responsible for their 3 school-aged sons. Becoming a single mother while battling a chronic illness was as much a leap of faith as a total necessity. Read more.
Meghan, 23 at the time, was on vacation August of 2013 with her family at Lake Lure when she started complaining to her cousins that she was seeing double. She decided to ignore it and continued to see double mountains and boat docks without telling her parents, a neurologist and a nurse. She told her dad what had been happening when they got home. He performed a few neurological tests in the living room and said, “Megs, you have to come to the office tomorrow.” In February 2014, she was officially diagnosed and, after having waited, says it was almost a relief to find out. Read more.
Brooke Pelczynski is an 27 year old artist, illustrator, and multiple sclerosis fighter, based in Brooklyn, NY. She was diagnosed in 2012, the summer before she graduated with her BFA in Illustration from the School of Visual Arts. Dropping paint brushes and seeing stars caused for a pretty wild senior year. Read more.
Ashley is a 30-year old, living right outside of Austin, TX. She was diagnosed with Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis in August 2010 at the age of 22. The diagnosis came shortly after she graduated with her Associates Degree in Criminal Justice. She is a mom of two boys, Jason who is 12 and Luke who is 9. Read more.
TK Sellman, RPSGT CCSH is a career journalist (Columbia Chicago, ’90). She was diagnosed with idiopathic hypersomnia in 2010, which inspired her to go back to school to become a sleep technologist in 2012 and a professional sleep educator in 2014. Her IH diagnosis was later abandoned when her neurologist in Seattle confirmed RRMS was to blame for her continual fatigue, as well as other symptoms of relapse (tremor, migraine, and tinnitus). Read more.
Marc Stecker - Wheelchair Kamikaze
I’m Marc, a 50-year-old male, living in New York City with my lovely and wonderful wife Karen. Diagnosed with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis in March of 2003, I now require a wheelchair to get around the city. I like to drive the wheelchair at full speed, thus the moniker “Wheelchair Kamikaze”. Read more.
In 1997, Donna and Lynn Steigleder united their two families in marriage. As they worked to blend their two families, both had very active, busy lifestyles. When they got married, Donna had a daughter, age 13 and a son, age 10. Lynn had a son age 10...Within the next five years, Lynn had persistent signs that something was wrong. Having been trained as a nurse, Donna knew in her heart that Lynn had MS. His father had died from complications of MS when he was in his forties. Knowing what could lie ahead, he stubbornly refused to consider that he might have MS for several years until at Donna’s insistence, he finally saw a neurologist in 2006 who confirmed that he did indeed have MS. So, began Donna’s role as an MS Caregiver. Read more.
Christopher Gillies has lived with Multiple Sclerosis since 2003. The original diagnosis for a 29 year old husband and father to a 4 month old baby came as a shock and felt like a death sentence. The following months and years were filled with doctor visits, examinations, scans, and family life. Read more.
In late 2019, Ms. Hines launched the platform Marti’s MS Life as a transparent way to share her journey with Multiple Sclerosis. Ms.Hines was first diagnosed with the immune disorder in 2018 after a scary incident when she woke to find the left side of her body paralyzed. Read more.
I live in a small city in the middle of England with my wife and young daughter. After working full-time in Arts Marketing for over 20 years, I'm currently "between jobs". All offers gratefully received! I was diagnosed with MS in 2005 after having vague symptoms over a number of years. I'm currently having Tysabri infusions, after trying Rebif (interferon beta-1a) injections and Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate). What's next? Read more.
I have been blogging about living with MS since 2006 when I was diagnosed at 22. I found during my diagnosis that there just simply weren't enough resources for the younger crowd so I decided to try to tackle that myself. My relapses have been few, mostly optic neuritis, and until about a month ago I have not been on a medication consistently. Read more.
Jackie Zimmerman has been in the patient advocacy game for well over a decade. She began as a blogger after her multiple sclerosis diagnosis and later, began to (over)share her battle with ulcerative colitis (UC).
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