Sherry K is on the left
Raising awareness about the importance of MS education is one of Sherry’s callings. She’s from Cleveland, OH, and was diagnosed with relapsing MS in 2000.
I learned I had relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2000. After living with the disease for nearly 18 years, I'm often asked what advice I would give someone who has been recently diagnosed. My response is always: education, education, education. I encourage everyone I know (whether they are living with the disease or know someone who is) to get informed about MS. Learn about the symptoms, the treatment options that are available, and the best ways to manage the condition.
When I was diagnosed, I had a limited understanding of relapsing MS. It was difficult for me to explain my disease to my family and friends, or even to have informed conversations with my doctor. I needed to feel more in control of what was happening to me, so I took the time to learn about it. I soon realized the power of saying yes to information and knowledge—especially when managing a chronic condition such as relapsing MS.
The MS community is an active and supportive group of individuals. Although it's not the most desirable "club" to be part of, the people I have met through various MS community events have helped me throughout my MS journey in many ways.
For example, when I was first diagnosed, I looked the same physically and I didn't appear sick. It was difficult for those around me to understand what was actually wrong, and I struggled to explain how I was feeling. I decided that I would ask my family to accompany me to an MS event. It was so helpful for them to hear another MS patient and a physician talk about the disease. At the event, they explained how MS is like a fingerprint (it's different for everyone), how symptoms can come and go, and what I may expect during a relapse. We all left with a better understanding of the disease.
A one-hour informational session may seem like a small thing. For my family and I though, saying yes to this event was the first step in helping us cope with my diagnosis and understanding how they could support me in my daily life with relapsing MS.
When I was diagnosed, I was intimidated by my doctor. I was afraid to be honest with him about how I was feeling and share some of my health concerns. Looking back, I wish I had been more upfront about my symptoms and said ‘yes, this is embarrassing, but it’s what I am feeling.’ Fortunately, I now consider my current doctor my friend. She is my best source of information about my disease, and I am open with her about every detail of my MS. I truly feel that she is in this journey with me, and having her on my support team makes all the difference in managing life with relapsing MS.
Sherry K. is a paid spokesperson for Biogen and has experience taking Tecfidera® (dimethyl fumarate). She may or may not be currently on TECFIDERA.