My younger sister was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis late last year. Shortly after her diagnosis, I signed up for two M.S. fundraising walks, one in Baton Rouge, the other in New Orleans. I was beyond grateful to the people who sponsored me on these walks because I was so sad about what my sister faces on a daily basis. I can’t make her ongoing pain and struggles easier (which is always frustrating for someone as anal and eager to please as I am), but I can walk in her name to raise money so that talented scientists and doctors can work to find a cure.
If you don’t know what M.S. is, here are some facts:
* It’s a chronic and often disabling disease of the central nervous system.
* The disease occurs when the immune system attacks the myelin (or fatty protective tissue) that surrounds nerves, damaging it and the nerves themselves. When the myelin is attacked and scarred, nerve impulses are interrupted or distorted.
* Person to person, symptoms vary and range from numbness in the limbs to paralysis and loss of vision.
* There are treatments that can slow the progression of the disease and help people live satisfying, productive lives. But to date, there is nothing that can wipe it out altogether.
Having said all this and being totally aware of my sister’s struggles, I get up every day and look for reasons to be hopeful. She’s handling her diagnosis with humor (most of the time) and tries to find ways to manage her limits, lessen her stress and ask for help when she needs it. Although I am fully aware that she has bad, debilitating days, and hate that for her, I’m tickled beyond words that she has begun to paint again. Above is one of her works-in-progress, an impressionistic triptych of flowers in a field. She began this piece a few hours ago, after selling two of them last night on Facebook.
Disclaimer: I bought one of those two paintings. I’m a proud big sister. What can I say? Isn’t her work gorgeous?
To close, if you would like to get involved with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, here are ways you can help.
If biking and walking and other physical events are not your cup of tea, please consider making a donation to NMSS, either as a gift to support general research and education, or one to honor my sister, Katherine Warren.