We’re in this Together

Walk to create a world free of multiple sclerosis at the upcoming Walk MS.

By: Bailey Starnes

When Marisol Trevino was sent to the hospital from work one day due to numbness in the entire left side of her body, she thought she was having a stroke. As she had never heard of multiple sclerosis (MS) and it was not in her family’s medical history at all, the diagnosis was a complete shock.
“I was in disbelief,” Trevino said. “I started to cry as I researched the disease and felt so scared of all the unknowns. Was I going to be in a wheelchair? Will I be able to walk a few days from now?”

MS is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. The cause of MS is still unknown – scientists believe the disease is triggered by an as-yet-unidentified environmental factor in a person who is genetically predisposed to respond. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted.

Although Trevino’s diagnosis came quickly following a computerized tomography (CT) scan and a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) due to the severe numbness in the left side of her body, MS, in many other cases, has proven to be a challenging disease to diagnose.

In early MS, symptoms may be non-specific and suggestive of several disorders of the nervous system. Early symptoms that come and go may be ignored. While no single laboratory test is yet available to prove or rule out MS, the MRI is a great help in reaching a definitive diagnosis. Diagnostic criteria that incorporate MRI findings have been developed and revised by experts in the field and have helped providers make an accurate and timely diagnosis.

Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. Since Trevino was 32, her diagnosis age fit the average profile.

As a district parole officer for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Trevino works every day on managing the stress of her job as not to exacerbate her symptoms. MS symptoms occur when the immune system produces inflammation within the central nervous system. The inflammatory attack damages myelin (the protective insulation surrounding nerve fibers), oligodendrocytes (cells that make central nervous system myelin) and sometimes the underlying nerve fiber. The damage caused by inflammation can produce symptoms that resolve over weeks to months or symptoms that are permanent.
“MS has tremendously impacted my life,” Trevino said. “Getting informed through the National MS Society has taught me that life can still go on, and it’s not the end of the world.”

Through one of the National MS Society’s signature events, Walk MS, Trevino has gotten to connect locally with others who are living with the disease and form a community bond through participation with her Walk MS team, SOL PATROL.

More than 1,000 people are expected to raise more than $150,000 at Walk MS: Corpus Christi on April 1, 2017. Walk MS is an opportunity for people living with MS and those who care about them to connect, join together and be inspired. In 2016 alone, nearly 300,000 people at more than 550 locations across the country walked to create a world free of MS, raising nearly $50 million. This year, the cumulative total of Walk MS is expected to surpass $1 billion.

“Walk MS is a joyous gathering with a wonderful ‘we’re in this together’ feeling,” said Cyndi Zagieboylo, president and CEO of the National MS Society. “Every participant, volunteer, donor and sponsor is helping to drive us toward this exciting $1 billion milestone. Together, we are accelerating progress in making life-changing breakthroughs so that each person with MS can live her or his best life.”

To get involved or learn more, visit www.walkms.org, call 855-372-1331 or email fundraisingsupport@nmss.org.

Photos courtesy of MS Society