Because of dedicated donors like you, life with multiple sclerosis is better now than ever before. In fact, since the mid-1990s numerous effective disease modifying treatments have been made available. There have been more breakthrough treatments for MS than any other neurological disorder. It’s amazing what a difference your generosity has made on the lives of so many including those you might not realize – children and teens.
Although MS occurs most commonly in adults, estimates suggest that there are between 8,000 and 10,000 children and adolescents in the U.S. who have the disease. It’s hard to imagine how frightening MS symptoms can be for a child, let alone parents who are desperately trying their best to provide their children relief, while worrying about what the future might hold. As a donor to the Society, you are helping these families navigate the challenges they face today, and you are giving them hope that tomorrow will bring answers. In fact, I’d like to tell you about one family that has benefitted from your support.
Joshua was diagnosed with MS when he was four years old, changing the course of his life.
Joshua was an energetic kid who suddenly lost the vision in his right eye and the feeling in the left side of his body. When Joshua’s mom, Delissa, found out that her young son had MS, she was devastated and confused, but also determined. What would having MS mean for Joshua’s life? At that moment, she wanted to learn everything she could about the disease, so she contacted the Society for help.
Delissa began to gain the knowledge and tools she needed to chart a positive path forward for Joshua. This included getting him a support dog named Skully and on a treatment that has prevented him from falling and experiencing debilitating headaches. She’s thankful that MS hasn’t overtaken Joshua’s life at this point and that he can continue to play and attend school like her other children. She has big hopes for his future and for the future of other children living with MS, including that today’s research will lead to new testing and treatments that are less invasive and scary for children.
By being a supporter of the National MS Society, you are helping to create hope for children like Joshua and the people who love them deeply. There are 12 Pediatric MS Centers that are networked and collaborating across our country where children receive MS care and researchers are uncovering the key biological mechanisms underlying MS. Research with children is critical in understanding the cause of the disease and in ensuring appropriate treatments for their age. For example, recent research led to an FDA-approved expansion of the use of Gilenya for children 10 years or older with relapsing MS. This is the very first disease-modifying therapy that has been approved for pediatric MS—it’s huge progress!
It takes all of us to achieve breakthroughs for everyone living with MS. Delissa is doing her part by helping us better understand what children with MS and their families need. Things like making sure to show positive examples of how kids with MS can live a full life and providing connections with others to share experiences. By telling her and Joshua’s story, Delissa hopes to help raise awareness that children get MS, too, and to show other parents of children with MS that they are not alone. Some days will be better than others, but every day is a chance to enjoy your kids. With her help and yours, we are letting the public know that the National MS Society helps adults and children affected by MS, so more families can connect to us early in their journey and get the support they need to live their best lives.
It’s a pleasure to continue to provide you with updates on the difference you’ve made. You are having an immediate impact on the health and wellbeing of people affected by MS by choosing to support the work of the Society.