Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Everyone has their causes--their go-to illnesses and issues that trigger the emotion, that strike them deepest. I have a few--but spreading M.S. awareness is something that is of supreme importance to me. My mom suffered--and I do mean suffered--for decades from the disease.
I've never been forced to medicate or endure physical pain from M.S. And yet, it's hurt me so deeply, for such a long time. Sometimes the pain is so raw and jagged, you'd think I was diagnosed with the illness myself. It shaped and molded my childhood and ability to empathize in ways nothing else ever has or could. It appears in my head as this tangible beast whom I can't look in the eye--this huge, ominous threat of a monster I run from--an incredibly childlike image, perhaps triggered by my own unique experience. But my mom with M.S. was the only mom I ever knew.
I hesitate to tell people about her sometimes. Do people want to hear that she died? She was only 45. Don't people only want to hear "successes?" I instantly feel guilty when I suppress my desire to share her. Her story should be shared, I know, but honestly, who wants to be the downer in the crowd? M.S. is very rarely fatal--more often than not, people don't show any visible symptoms. At the risk of sounding exceptionally whiny, this angers me to no end. There are four variations of the illness, and most people are capable of carrying on "normal" lives with the exception of bouts and flare-ups here and there. In this age, there is continual research, there are countless treatments. My mom experimented with a lot of them, but the fact of the matter is, she was hit very hard with the disease, and in her day and age, there was minimal treatment and research that was accessible. It's still a heartbreaking realization. If she'd been diagnosed later, would she have lived longer? Would she have had a better quality of life if she'd had been exposed to X, Y, Z treatment? Would she have lost her ability to walk so early on, if she had been afforded the opportunity to try that new cutting edge medication? So many questions and never any real closure. And this is why M.S. is still a monster in my head.
To be perfectly blunt, I am a little envious of the endless awareness regarding other illnesses. I feel like every other day, there's a new billboard or fundraiser or event created just for the sake of cancer research or heart health. It's a sad reality that thousands of issues plague us, and my reality is that M.S. is my cause. Suffering is one of those unifying traits about humankind that is unparalleled by any other act we're forced into, I think--we all have our causes--yours may be any of the number of cancers or Alzheimer's, or Muscular Dystrophy--this one is mine.
This week is M.S. Awareness Week. I am walking in my mom's honor on April 19th here in Nashville. If you feel compelled, please consider giving in her name, or walking in your city. It's a really emotional event--empowering to see so many survivors of the illness teaming up to show their strength. I am more than halfway to my fundraising goal, thanks to some fantastically generous friends. It's a scary, unpredictable illness, but I truly believe a cure will be found before I leave this earth.
(...and thank you for dealing with my deviation from Bachelor recaps and weekly photo reviews.)
more and more at: my dear mom