Welcoming Spring with New Activities for the MS Community

March 20th marks the first day of spring, and for many, you can start to see and feel the
signs that summer is approaching. The days become longer, the air becomes warmer, and the plants begin to grow again. I personally am looking forward to the evenings on the porch after work. – sitting with my feet up, just watching as the neighbors stroll by. The neighborhood becomes active again, with people stopping to say ‘hello’ instead of running inside to beat the cold. Wildlife starts to show their furry faces, popping by the porch to grab some treats.

Over this harsh New Jersey winter, I began to create a list of things that I wished to accomplish once the weather became milder. I welcomed 2014 as the year to try something new, and have pushed off many of these new things until now. Cabin fever has gotten a hold of me and I can’t wait to get out! I plan to become more active, but not in a physical sense. I want to spend more quality time with people and enjoy just being present in the moment. Taking the time to fully invest myself in a task with a friend, without thinking about the thousands of other things I need to do, or rushing off to the next event.Spring email sign-up_edit

With the nice weather, you may also wish to be more active, perhaps joining an MS group,
or attending an educational MS event in your area. MSAA provides free local MS events throughout the country where you can learn about a certain topic, often presented by an MS specialist. The Calendar of Events on our webpage provides information on the type and location of these events. Events are continually being added every day. If you register with MSAA, you can receive information via e-mail or regular mail when an event is coming to your area. Registration is available on our webpage, or, you can reach out to our helpline at 1-800-532-7667 ext. 154 and a helpline consultant will be happy to take your information.

So what do you look forward to most in the spring? Do you have any plans or things you would like to try?

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Greetings from the Midwest!

I’ve hosted many educational programs over the years, where I have had the opportunity to meet many wonderful people, who have enriched my life.

In these meetings, a common theme has emerged – Attitude. Presenters often speak to the importance of a positive attitude. It can have a profound impact on how we feel and handle the challenges we face each day.

One thing I hear often in the field is how frequently our clients take on a variety of challenges with a positive outlook.

One person who stands out is Dan, an MSAA client, that I met at a program. He shared his own story of overcoming obstacles with gusto and motivation. There are many individuals like Dan who come to our programs and share their struggles, as well as, their triumphs. These interactions are what make my work in the field so inspiring.

What a week in the Midwest! There were several programs held June 17-22 where clients had the pleasure to listen to prominent MS medical professionals in Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Each presented his approach for managing MS symptoms and improving quality of life. MS clients, family, friends, and caregivers were inspired. All attending learned much about the importance of nutrition, exercise, and appropriate medications. Many practical tips were discussed.

At one event in Wisconsin, I had the pleasure to meet Cheryl Vanderloop, MSAA’s Artist of the Month for June. She attended a program and introduced herself to me. She is very inspiring. At the end of the program, I surprised her by opening up our website via a wi-fi connection, where I displayed her work and introduced her to the many in attendance. She received a resounding round of applause. Her smile was infectious.

I urge all of you to attend our educational events. They’re fair, balanced, and lots of fun. Please check out MSAA’s Calendar of Events for a program near you. Also, if you have an idea for program topics please leave a comment below!
I look forward to seeing you during my travels throughout the great Midwest!
Smile!
Scott

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Hello from the Northeast Region!

Hi all! As the Northeast Regional Director, I plan all of MSAA’s educational programming from Maine to Washington DC. My territory may not look very big on the map, but don’t be fooled! I cover Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Washington, DC. I spend a lot of time traveling throughout the Northeast hosting educational programs for patients, and the last month has been very busy  here.

This week, I wrapped up a four-program series called “MS Update 2013: What’s New in the Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis?” that focused on the latest treatment options in the management of MS. There were three programs in April—one  in Freehold, NJ with Dr. Amos Katz, one in Plymouth Meeting, PA with Dr. Thomas Leist, and one in Cherry Hill, NJ with Dr. Donald Barone—and  the last program was held on May 8th in Staten Island, NY with Dr. Allan Perel. Each program had a lengthy question and answer session at the end, and everyone who attended was encouraged to ask the presenting doctor any questions they had about the currently-approved FDA therapies, research, and general questions about MS. It seemed like everyone learned a lot at these programs, and I was impressed by their thoughtful questions!

In the last month, my travels also took to me Syracuse, NY and Amherst, NY for patient programs on “Managing MS Relapses” with Dr. Lev Goldiner and Dr. Peter Kinkel, respectively. I also made it down to McLean, VA in the DC Metropolitan area, for a patient program on “Managing Your MS” with Dr. James Simsarian and his nurse practitioner, Alona Williamson.

I am so fortunate to be able to attend these programs and meet so many wonderful people that make me so grateful to be able to do the work that I do. At a smaller, more intimate program last month, I had the opportunity to speak with a young man who diagnosed with MS a few weeks before the program, and just days before his wife gave birth to their new baby. I was so inspired by his positive outlook about his diagnosis and wanting to learn as much as possible about MS, so he could self-advocate to ensure he would receive the best care possible.

As many of you know, MSAA hosts hundreds of educational events for both patients and healthcare providers each year. If you live in the Northeast and are interested in attending a program, two are coming up: The Changing Landscape of MS: What Does It Mean for Patients? with Dr. Rock Heyman in Pittsburgh, PA on May 15th and Managing MS Relapses with Dr. Scott Newsome and Kathleen Costello in Baltimore, MD on June 6th. I am also in the process of planning patient programs in Erie, PA, Rochester, NY, Burlington, VT, Maine and New York City over the next few months, and am hoping to expand that list.

Add our Calendar of Events to your bookmarks and check in every so often to see if there is an event in your area! I hope to see you at an event soon!

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Community Matters

Greetings from MSAA’s Western Regional Office! As the Western Regional Director, I have a large territory to cover: California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii! I’m often on the road for education programs, and last week was no exception.  We had a wonderful program for neurologists in Woodland Hills, CA with Dr. Andrew Woo on Tuesday, March 12 and another program in Portland, OR with Dr. Liz Crabtree on Thursday, March 14. On Saturday, I went to Las Vegas for a patient education program with Dr. Lilyana Amezcua on “The Changing Landscape of Multiple Sclerosis: The Latest Research and Updates to Help You Live Your Best with MS”.  As always, it was wonderful to spend some time with the dynamic group of MS clients and care partners in Las Vegas.

It’s always amazing to me to come across active groups of MS clients in my travels.  Las Vegas is definitely one of those places!  They have such a strong community of MS clients and care partners there, in no small part due to the work of Darlene Trotsky.  Darlene started a MS Lunch Club seven years ago, and the group is still going strong today!  I remember the first time I had a patient education program in Las Vegas years ago and getting a call from Darlene.  Darlene told me about her group, and offered to help get the word out about the program.  Her energy and commitment to the MS community in Las Vegas was obvious from the start, and this impression was only made stronger once I entered the room for the program.  The level of care and compassion they felt for each other was only matched by their genuine interest in learning as much as they could about MS and better understanding how they could meet the challenges of MS collectively.  There was a recent article in the Las Vegas Review Journal about the wonderful work that Darlene and all involved in her group are doing http://www.reviewjournal.com/life/community-organizations/ms-lunch-club-social-event-purpose.

The Las Vegas MS client community is a wonderful example of what I see throughout my region as I travel.  From the MS Encouragement Group in Phoenix, Arizona to the Alaska MS Center in Anchorage, I am always touched to see MS clients and care partners creating a real sense of community in their areas, and I think that the power of communities is something that shouldn’t be underestimated.  In that spirit, here are some of my favorite quotes about the importance of communities:

  •  “A healthy social life is found only, when in the mirror of each soul the whole community finds its reflection, and when in the whole community the virtue of each one is living.” –Rudolf Steiner
  • “Never doubt that a small, group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” –Margaret Mead

I’ll end on a personal note.  I feel honored to work for an organization that understands the importance of community and lucky to experience that sense on a local level at all of the education programs I attend.  Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, has a quote that expresses this just perfectly for me.

“I want to work for a company that contributes to and is part of the community.  I want something not just to invest in, I want something to believe in.” I couldn’t have said it better myself!

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