(WKBN) – March is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month. MS is a chronic disease affecting the central nervous system. It affects many people on a daily basis.
“That day will forever be embedded in my mind and I don’t ever want people to hear those words, and that’s why I advocate,” said Samantha Villella, president of KV’s Krew.
The words Villella is talking about are, “You have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.” Words her family knows all too well.
“My mom was diagnosed in 2008 and then my sister was diagnosed in 2014 with MS,” Villella said.
MS is when the immune system eats away at the protective covering of nerves. The disease is different amongst the close to one million people living with it in the United States.
“People will describe fluctuations, so the symptoms will come and go. Some days they will feel amazing and some days they just don’t feel like getting off the couch they’re so fatigued. A lot of times they’ll describe it like they’re invisible symptoms,” said Dr. Mary Rensal, director of wellness and pediatric MS at the Cleveland Clinic.
Villella says her mom, Kathy, and sister, Nikki, experience different symptoms.
“Sometimes when people are diagnosed with a disease, we hear that diagnosis and we say we kinda know what that journey is going to look like. With MS, it’s different, even my mom and my sister’s journey are completely different,” Villella said.
Villella’s mother has primary progressive MS, leaving her in a wheelchair. Nikki has relapsing-remitting, which is the most common form. Nikki is still able to stay active and live a healthy lifestyle.
“If folks live kinda a healthy lifestyle, meaning they eat some healthy food and they get some good rest and they keep a lot of supportive people around them, no smoking, people can do better with living a healthy lifestyle,” Dr. Rensal said.
Villella and her family say they’re excited to continue advocating and helping fund research.