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Be Fashion Forward & Raise MS Awareness 03.12.2013

Earlier this month I read that the color Tangerine is the bold and spunky spring shade this year in all things fashion.  I love the idea of wearing bright orange, since it exudes fun, warmth and flash – however the color next to my skin tone does not flatter!  If I choose to match the trends, I likely will stick to pops of color, perhaps in jewelry, footwear or polish.

As a timely association, Tangerine (aka bright orange) also serves as the branded color of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS), and each year the NMSS promotes March as National MS Awareness Month (March 11-17 is MS Awareness week).  Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic disease of the central nervous system (the brain, optic nerves and spinal cord).  Over 2 million people worldwide are affected by MS, and because many symptoms of the condition can go unreported each year, this number is likely underestimated.

MS_Research_RevolutionAccording to the NMSS, “symptoms of MS are unpredictable, vary from person to person, and from time to time in the same person. For example: One person may experience abnormal fatigue and episodes of numbness and tingling. Another could have loss of balance and muscle coordination making walking difficult. Still another could have slurred speech, tremors, stiffness, and bladder problems.

Sometimes major symptoms disappear completely, and the person regains lost functions.  In severe MS, people have symptoms on a permanent basis including partial or complete paralysis, and difficulties with vision, cognition, speech, and elimination.”

Why is this important to me?  On a professional level, I work with individuals disabled by the effects of incurable (to date) neurological diseases, including MS and Parkinson’s Disease.  For anyone living with a disabling condition, making adjustments to living and working spaces to adapt to physical needs is crucial for maintaining independence.  In a future post, I will address methods I have found helpful when organizing for physical challenges, and describe issues I have encountered with my clients who have bravely embraced new ways of doing things.

Niagara Falls Turns Orange for MS Awareness

On a personal level, I have two sisters who live with MS and through them have experienced the devastating effects of this cruel disease.  MS can harbor in wait for years to claim ownership of one’s motor functions, or it can attack with full force, creating a wake of progressive deterioration.  My sister Kathleen, who courageously lives with progressive MS, has fought this battle for 13 years with stoic pride, grit and gutsy determination to maintain her independence.  Due to advancing limitations on her physical abilities, she has shared her story to both raise awareness of what it means to live with progressive MS and to garner support through her community and personal network for her immediate care needs. I’m proud of her for reaching out and I decided this was a perfect opportunity to share it with you.  My sister Joanne, more recently diagnosed with a less aggressive form of MS, works hard to manage her symptoms so that her livelihood and independence remain intact.  Her future is no less certain and that stress is burdensome.

There is no cure for MS.  The availability of FDA approved drugs to treat symptoms of MS can help to stall the progression of MS in many cases, however more research is needed to develop better therapies for those in advanced stages of the disease and to ultimately find a cure.  This month, in many NMSS chapters around the country, events are planned to raise awareness and support toward a world without MS.  Click here to see what local events are planned for the Washington DC region.  Also, learn about how The Amazing Race’s Phil Keoghan supports the cause, and the new initiative called MS Research Revolution.

If you decide to wear something Tangerine colored this spring, I hope you will think about the vibrant, strong and spunky women and men living with Multiple Sclerosis and the ways you may be able to join the MS Research Revolution to find a cure.

With gratitude,

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