It’s time to say farewell to another month in the calendar year, and for most around the country, a hopeful farewell to the end of winter. It’s been a harsh season for most of the US, so with the end of March we welcome a warmer, though often rain consumed month of April. As we embark upon the end of this busy month, it also marks the end of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, though only formally on the calendar. MS Awareness has the ability to continue the whole year round, and though its promotion in the month of March draws to a close, the MS community can continue raising awareness for the disease throughout the year. Continuing to increase education, advocacy and support for those with MS are some of the goals the community continuously strives for. So while the month of March comes to a close, it brings with it the opportunity to enter a new phase of the year with the same objective: to increase awareness of MS.
March is MS Awareness Month. As an advocacy group, you will hear MSAA discuss our available resources, and encourage you to get out and be active about raising awareness for MS and supporting programs which benefit individuals with MS. We will promote and support expanding knowledge and information about MS. With all of that going on, it might feel like you need to wave a flag shouting, “HERE I AM. I HAVE MS!!!”
As the Manager of Client Services at MSAA, I wanted to acknowledge that there are times when you (or your friend or family member) may not want others to know about a diagnosis. While you may want to be an advocate to spread awareness and information to help people understand about MS, you may not want certain people (i.e. an employer, a new boyfriend, or a casual acquaintance) to know you or a loved one has MS.
There is nothing secretive about a diagnosis, but it is your (or your loved one’s) own personal health information. While some people might share that they had a heart attack or stroke with anyone they meet, others might feel medical information is no one else’s business and only talk about it with a doctor or close family member.
So, if you want to be an advocate but not shout a diagnosis from the rooftops, what can you do?
On social media sites:
Think before you post. Are you comfortable with everyone seeing your update or picture? If not, make sure to check your privacy settings before sharing personal (health-related) information so that only people you want to learn about your private information, such as close family or friends, can see your updates and pictures.
If you want to talk about MS in the community, know that not everyone who spreads information and encourages activity for a cause will be personally affected by it. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing your diagnosis, make it general: “ I’m helping out with a cause… Can you help too?” or: “There is a charity I support, and I wanted you to know about them and what they do” are generic ways to introduce information about “your cause,” even if you don’t want anyone to know it is personal.
In many of these situations, there may be a future point in time where you might want to share a diagnosis. On the job, you may decide to ask for a reasonable accommodation and share a diagnosis when needed. When your boyfriend goes from being casual to serious, you might feel comfortable disclosing. Likewise, if a casual acquaintance becomes a good friend, you may want to share. If not, there is no pressure. You can still be an advocate for MS without disclosing a diagnosis.
The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA) recognizes March as MS Awareness Month. Throughout the month, MSAA is raising awareness and improving lives today!
MS Awareness Month is a great opportunity for everyone to learn more about multiple sclerosis and discover all the services and support MSAA offers.
MSAA offers the following ways to learn and support the MS community:
- Visit our website, mymsaa.org, which provides easy access to vital information, resources, and tools from your desktop, mobile phone, or tablet.
- View any of our educational videos and webinars in our MSi Video Library ranging in topic from MS symptom management to understanding Medicare, and much more.
- Read one of our publications, including MSAA’s award-winning magazine, The Motivator, and the recently published MS Research Update with the latest latest findings in MS treatments and research.
- Attend one of MSAA’s educational events for people with MS and care partners – check our Calendar of Events to find upcoming programs happening in your area.
- Check out MSAA’s 2014 Art Showcase, featuring creative and beautiful artwork by individuals with MS.
Help to spread MS awareness by using MSAA’s “March is MS Awareness Month” badge as your social media profile picture (right-click the image below, save it to your computer, then use it on your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn account profile pictures).
Also remember to use the hashtag #MSAwareness in your social media posts.
We look forward to everyone learning more about MS during MS Awareness Month. And we greatly appreciate your continued support of our vital mission of improving lives today for the entire MS community.
As we celebrate the month of March as Women’s History Month, it’s hard not to think of the differences between the women of yesterday and today. Not to say that ideals or values weren’t the same, or that one group is more superior to the other, but of the advancement and overall change that has occurred in the world around us that differs so drastically from the past. As a woman of the past, can you imagine not being able to vote for the President? Or not wearing pants because it was assumed that all women should only wear dresses and skirts? It’s hard to believe how far we’ve come in society in comparison to a whole other world of the past where women were seen in such a different light.
I think as society continues to shift and progress from years past, women will continue to have even stronger voices and values within all aspects of life. Could you imagine going from not being able to vote for President, to having the opportunity to potentially become the President? Astonishing…