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It's MS Awareness Month. What do you do to raise awareness and what does it mean to you?

MS has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. When I was a young kid, my grandfather suffered from the disease and moved in with us so we could help care for him. Then years later, I was diagnosed with the disease. So raising awareness for MS has always been a big deal for me.

When I was younger, I focused on raising as much money as I could for MS research (which I guess if you think about it, actually ended up benefitting me). I remember my grade school would take part in a Read-a-thon for MS each year, and I always worked hard to read the most and raise the most money at my school because I felt like it was duty because of my grandfather. It also helped me feel like I was doing something and I’m sure that helped me cope with seeing him struggle. As I got older, I started focusing on the MS walk and not only raising money that way but also distributing information via pamphlets and whatnot.

After I was diagnosed, MS awareness took on a whole meaning for me. I actually felt a bit weird about asking for donations for things like the MS walk, but at the same time, the MS walk and MS awareness month began to mean a whole lot more to my friends and family. Like it did for me with my grandfather, it allowed them to feel helpful. Not only by raising money but sharing information about the disease. I remember when social media started to really blossom and seeing my friends share items about MS, it always made me feel loved and I know it made them feel better. So remember, MS awareness month isn’t only beneficial to us, it can be a way to help those that love us feel like they are able to contribute.

While I obviously share a lot about MS and my life with MS all of the time, it always has special meaning during MS Awareness month. These days, my biggest goals around this month aren’t about raising money but about fostering understanding. There are so many misconceptions about MS out there, so I try my best to share a lot of simplified posts with the very basics of the disease. I feel like we are at a point where so many people finally have somewhat of an idea about MS and this is a good month to help drive the facts home. I am always open to new ideas though!

As for what it means to me, these days I push hard to raise MS awareness for the next generation of folks with the disease. The future Devin’s that haven’t been diagnosed yet. The more we spread the word now, the better off their lives will be and that’s important to me. What does MS awareness mean to you?

  1. I agree with you 100% about emphasizing understanding. People in general need educated; if you just asked the simple question "Do you know anyone with MS?) most people will respond they heard of it or know someone with it. In my opinion, the word 'awareness' is overused, vague, and doesn't apply as much nowadays. I wish that asking for donations be directed more toward the holidays, so that education would be the main focus of our March is MS month. Less cheerleading, and more realism; teaching those of us with MS how to educate others about MS.

    I'm a constant MS educator e.g., MS bumper stickers on my car and scooter often prompt people to ask me questions because I look friendly. Yesterday, I was riding around Walmart and two different people asked me questions and I was happy to take the time to answer them. I keep my "business" cards about my Managing MS book to hand out. If I'm in a health facility for some reason, basic chit-chat with folks often provides the opportunity to tell that I have MS, and asking if they know anyone with it. I have an MS blog. When I engage in social media, my comments are mostly geared towards offering education/information.

    Even though I moderate for this platform, I can roll off many other platforms, resources, blogs that can direct people with different types of available, credible places to get info. The mounds of information is overwhelming when a person starts to look into it. Then I become a navigator for them.

    Education results in less fear and more empathy. I'm going to stop here, because I can go on too long about this. It's one of my passions. Thank you for writing this, Devin. I wish more people would have responded to it; maybe that is an indication of they don't know how? All the best, Debbie (Team Member)

    1. Thank you, Lori❤️I truly would love to meet other Christians on here.

    2. I hope you do, . On another note, I noticed that our system automatically assigned you a generic username when you registered. I wanted to let you know that you can change it to something that suits you better, if you like. Just click on your member icon in the upper right corner. From the drop-down menu that appears, click "Account Settings." On the Account Settings page, you will see "Change your username." Type a new username into the box and click "update username." - Lori (Team Member)

  2. And while it's weeks after, I also do what I can to let people know what it's like, but the best job I EVER had was the one I have now, being a moderator for! You cannot beat the colleagues.

    1. Thank you, Therry! We are lucky to have you here, moderating can be a difficult but very rewarding job!

  3. Today I am wearing my t-shirt I bought online a few months ago, but wasn't brave enough to wear, until I had a good enough reason, So until now!
    'I'm not faking being ill, I'm faking being well!'
    Its just how I feel! Its so perfect!

    1. I REALLY LIKE THAT SHIRT YOU HAVE!!!!!!! Sums things up, don't it? Thanks, I needed a laugh!

    2. Awareness is easy for me. I have a brace on my right leg and a walk aide on me left leg with a new brace in the works for my left leg. When I go out on my mobility scooter, people always ask me why. I just tell them. A simple answer is that I have MS. No I did not have an accident and my leg is not broken. Many walk away, some as me for more information. I am kind of an open book. Ask and I tell.

  4. Hey, Devin🙂 MS Awareness.. Out of sight is out of mind. You know, before I heard your family history of the men having MS, I didn't think it was possible to pass MS down to my children.
    My MS journey is a bit different. NO One else in the White or Johnson side of my family has MS. I'm "pioneering" this disease by myself. I'm thankful my family/children don't have MS! God is VERY GOOD in this!
    I believe I have had MS for much longer than the diagnosis in 2013. The "bottom started falling out in '2000 when I turned 20. Nobody knew what was happening to me. I KNOW now😉

    1. Polio was in my family history My mother had it as a child, my uncle came home from WWII with it and was in an iron lung for three years. His entire left side was hit hard. MS was not even in the target for discussion so I could not look into my family history to help me understand what MS was. I do remember Annett Funnichello having it as a young woman, but that was my entire introduction to MS. Awareness now is a hell of a lot better.

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