Recently I learned that a former co-worker, Jenise, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2015. I heard about her diagnosis from a Facebook post where she proudly shared some good news - The Copaxone was working! No new lesions!
This was, of course, excellent news, but I couldn't help but feel sad for her. Or rather, sad for myself. I liked Jenise a lot. She was a sweet girl, a beautiful spirit inside and out, and she didn't deserve MS.
But then again, does anyone deserve MS?
While Jenise had already been living with MS for a year, her diagnosis was news to me. One would hope Facebook would do a better job connecting two friends who share the same disease, but no. I'm not mad at you, Zuck, but really, I expect more.
I immediately messaged Jenise to offer her my support. A part of me felt like a veteran MSer - I was diagnosed in 2012 and have been through the highs and the lows. Multiple times, in fact.
I could help her somehow. I needed to help her. Perhaps I could offer my knowledge about MS and depression, or share my favorite anti-inflammatory dinner recipes. Or maybe share the health benefits of journaling. My favorite brand of vitamins I found after three months of research. Perhaps even my favorite totally-inflammatory foods for when I relapse or how I throw myself a pity party that rivals any you've ever seen.
But that time would come. For now, I would just offer my friendship and encouragement.
Jenise welcomed my support and, as MSers do, offered me hers. We caught up and I learned that she was doing well. This made me happy, despite my initial sadness that she had MS.
Everywhere I go, I meet someone who has MS, or someone who knows someone who has MS. It is estimated that 400,000 people have MS in the United States, but we know that the real number is far higher. Dr. Timothy Coetzee from the National MS Society explains why this piece of data is not accurate, but I can’t help but wish that it was. I wish the number would stop climbing. I wish I knew less people with MS. Or more accurately, I wish less people had MS.
Until that day comes, if ever it does, I will continue to offer and receive support when and where it is needed. Because that's what we do for each other, right? Right.