Ormond Beach residents open up about how multiple sclerosis has affected their lives.
BY EMILY BLACKWOOD | STAFF WRITER
When Pam Burnell was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, she didn’t even know what is was. Ten years later, the disease known as MS had taken over the majority of her body, making her a quadriplegic.
“There are so many symptoms with MS,” Burnell said. They don’t know why it’s caused ... (and) you can’t just look at somebody and know what’s wrong with them.”
Though Burnell found out about her disease in 2003, she didn’t start to lose movement until 2006. Since then, the illness has quickly progressed. She said she finds comfort in a Daytona Beach support group, which is also where she heard about the upcoming National MS Society's Walk MS, March 1 at Rockefeller Gardens Park.
The event will start at 8 a.m. and raise funds to benefit multiple sclerosis research.
“Everyone is in the same predicament as you are,” Burnell said of members in her support group. “But even though there are a lot of complications, (people with MS) can continue with their lives.”
Bronwen Blass was diagnosed with MS when she was 23 years old, according to her father, Jeff. After a brief break from school, he said his daughter pushed through the rest of her education and became a lawyer in Washington D.C.
Though the medicine to combat her symptoms has helped, it was Blass' child, she says, that has proven to be the best weapon in her battle against MS.
“When you become pregnant and when you’re nursing it, there is something in the body that battles MS,” Jeff Blass said. “So she was able to go off the drugs since she had her child. She’s been able to fight the symptoms very well.”
Blass said the fear of the unknown has been the hardest on his family.
“It was very scary when she first got the symptoms as a senior in college,” Blass said. “You’re 23-year-old daughter is now faced with this disease for the rest of her life, and there is no known cure. So, as a parent, the fear of the unknown is harder than anything. And when you see the older adults who have MS and are in their wheelchairs and unable to have a life they would like to lead, you worry that will be a fate for your daughter.”
Both Burnell and Blass will be participating in the Walk MS.