There are days when Stacey Kramer can't even feel her feet as she jogs. The 34-year-old magazine editor started to lose feeling in her fingers and feet the summer before her senior year of college. Like many people who are later diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, she initially mistook the numbness and heaviness in her fingertips for something else, something that was familiar to her. But as the numbness persisted to a point at which it impaired her writing, and one night extended to the entire left side of her body, Stacey knew something was wrong.
She consulted with a neurologist the very next day, and a few weeks later received the undeniable results of her MRI scan: the loss of feeling in her body was due to multiple sclerosis. “I was scared by the idea of losing myself, piece by piece, and petrified that I would end up unable to walk, which happens to 30 percent of cases,” recalls Stacey in a personal account she wrote for Self Magazine.
Stacey was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS, “meaning that just about anything can happen. You can enjoy years of remission with the occasional attack, followed by complete recovery. Or you can be like me and flip-flop between relapses and remissions a few times a year.” However, being diagnosed with the incurable but treatable disease pushed Stacey to look further into it. Her curiosity led her to become a science journalist, and she obtained her master's degrees in Journalism at both the New York University and Columbia University.
Though she says people on the street could not identify her as someone living with MS, it is impossible for Stacey to separate her disease from her identity. “MS means an inability to decipher the slightest touch. […] MS is my wedding band slipping off because I bought the wrong size for my numb finger, and it's difficulty hooking my bra. It was buying my first pack of Depends at 25, then buying a cane at 30.”
Though she was unaware of the cause at the time, Stacey started raising awareness about MS, and funds for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, when she was eight, by going door to door in her Boston neighborhood. “Young people get it. Want to donate?” she used to say. In Spring 2007, she agreed to become an ambassador for the National MS Society, in an effort to raise awareness and build support for the MS movement and those affected by it.