Every March is MS Awareness Month, a time for sufferers, family members, and supporters to share information, sympathy, and camaraderie, drawing attention to this disease of the central nervous system. If you’re not familiar, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) happens when one’s immune system attacks the nerve cells and renders them unable to properly transmit information, causing balance issues, weakened vision, fatigue, and other unpredictable symptoms. Approximately 2.5 million people worldwide suffer from multiple sclerosis. The cause is unknown, and there is no definitive cure as of this writing. However, there are many effective treatments, so those afflicted with MS should not lose hope. This month is all about raising awareness, educating wider society, fundraising, and getting behind those scientists that seek to advance our understanding of MS.
History of MS Awareness Month
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, which started in 1946 as the Association for Advancement of Research on Multiple Sclerosis, has raised $974 million for research since then, according to their own literature. Some of their fundraising efforts include “Walk MS,” “MuckFest,” and “DIY Fundraising,” where you can come up with your own creative way to work for the cause of researching and curing MS.
Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month was launched by the NMSS in March of 2003 in an effort to coordinate the fundraising and awareness-raising activities of disparate other MS-related groups and individuals with their own. Part of the mission of the month is to help people understand the true scope of MS and to help those with the disease make informed decisions about their treatment and overall health.
Since then, especially with “Walk MS,” fundraising events have gained an increasing amount of publicity, resulting in an ever-larger public demand for advancement toward a cure.
MS Awareness Month timeline
NYU publishes a study about innovative stem cell treatment for MS symptoms, in which, after injections, two patients who were previously unable to walk are able to complete a walking test.
The Multiple Sclerosis International Federation (MSIF) and its members initiate the first World MS Day, to be celebrated every year thereafter on May 30.
First proven drug treatment of MS was approved. Today there are 15 drugs for symptoms maintenance.
The first organized “Walk MS” event takes place, to eventually raise millions with repeated events.
Famed neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot (a teacher of Sigmund Freud), lectures on the effects of MS and names the disease.
MS Awareness Month FAQs
What month is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month?
What is the color for Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple Sclerosis awareness is represented by the color orange.
Is Multiple Sclerosis contagious?
The short answer is no. You can’t catch MS from someone else. The qualifier, though, is that you could be more likely to develop the disease if members of your immediate family suffer from it. However, even if you do experience symptoms, MS is not considered a “deadly disease.”
HOW TO OBSERVE MS Awareness Month
These events bring passionate people together to change the world for those affected by MS. Walks are held in major cities and smaller ones; there’s sure to be one near you.
Learn more about current advocacy opportunities. Also, look into making a donation, perhaps forming a corporate partnership.
Participate in MS Awareness Week
Wear the orange ribbon and explore the resources available on the NMSS website. Post on your social feeds using the hashtag, #ThisIsMS.
FIVE CELEBRITIES YOU DIDN’T KNOW HAD M.S.
Though the “Cruel Intentions” actress wasn’t diagnosed until 2018, her symptoms began in 2011.
The namesake voice of the animated “Dr. Katz” said he first experienced the symptoms of his MS in 1996.
The son of rock legend Ozzy Osbourne started experiencing MS symptoms just after the birth of his own son.
Famous for her role in HBO’s “The Sopranos,” Sigler started having MS symptoms when she was 20 years old.
Best known for her roles in the 80s films “Mr. Mom” and “Tootsie,” she has had MS since 1999.
WHY MS AWARENESS MONTH IS IMPORTANT
About 2.5 million people worldwide suffer from the disease
This figure includes an estimated 400,000 in the U.S. Strangely, people who reside in more temperate climates are more likely to develop MS than those living near the equator — or in the far north or south.
The symptoms can be unpredictable
Those affected by MS typically contend with extreme fatigue, difficulty walking, balance problems, and weakened vision. MS symptoms can be inconsistent, varying among individual patients.
There’s no known direct cause
Environmental factors, infectious agents, and immune reactions may all play a role, and scientists are looking into genetic markers within families.
MS Awareness Month dates