February 2016 Artist of the Month: Celebrating the Work of Artists Affected by Multiple Sclerosis

MSAA is very proud to present our 2015 Art Showcase – celebrating the work of artists affected by MS.

We have received many wonderful submissions from across the country and are delighted to share their work and their stories with you. Please visit our online gallery to view all of the new submissions.

February Artist of the Month:
Jennifer Atwood – A Wedding Centerpiece of Rose Balls and Orchids

 A Wedding Centerpiece of Rose Balls and Orchids

About the Artist:
“I was officially diagnosed with MS in 2007. Since then I had to retire and collect SSDI. I love watercolor but that was not my best media of my art degree in college. I now do this for my own satisfaction and the least expensive art I can do at home. I am 57, married, and have 4 daughters! All except one have left our nest, the youngest is 21. My husband Edward and I have been married 11 years.”
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Be inspired – please send an online card featuring artwork by MS artist Jennifer Atwood and spread awareness of MS and MSAA.

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A Message from Our New President & CEO – Gina Ross Murdoch

Welcome to 2016! As we begin a new year, I am thrilled and honored to be assuming the role of President and Chief Executive Officer of our Multiple Sclerosis Association of America. My fourteen years with the National MS Society galvanized my dedication to all affected by MS. I join our organization building on the great foundation established by Doug Franklin, Bob Rapp, the Board of Directors, volunteers, and the entire staff. These visionary leaders have made a significant impact on the lives of those affected by multiple sclerosis. Through their dedication to improving lives, so many of our members have received much-needed equipment, critical MRIs, cutting-edge technology via our My MS Manager mobile app, and invaluable information through our programs. I would be remiss if I didn’t start off my first post with a heartfelt thank you for all that they have done.

Going into this new year, we face challenges and new opportunities. The worlds of healthcare, insurance and research are constantly changing. Despite this varied landscape, we at YOUR MSAA remain singular in our focus to improve lives. Although this is our singular focus, it is not our singular responsibility. I encourage each and every one of you to get involved in MSAA activities and help us expand the word about how we are here to help. Multiple sclerosis is unpredictable. I have seen that all too well in my many years engaged with our community. I have seen some do well on our ever growing list of disease-modifying treatments. I have also seen those who have lost so much to MS and the overwhelming effects of that diagnosis on their families.

Now as we face the challenges and opportunities of a new year, I invite you to be an advocate for MSAA, for yourself and for those still to be diagnosed. We have made an impact but every week 200 more people need our help, need our information, need our support. Collectively, our MSAA members are in the hundreds of thousands – a very powerful agent for improving lives. My goal is to work collectively with staff, board members, volunteers, and our partners to continue our key programs while also investigating what new services our members need tomorrow. Together, we can take the good work of MSAA to so many more. Together, we can touch more lives and IMPROVE more lives. You will hear me a lot during this year – where we are, what we are doing and how YOU can be a part of our next chapter. I encourage you to reach out to me and let us know about opportunities in your town, your state and your region. A constant flow of information leads to quicker and better ideas.

I thank you in advance for your involvement, your passion, your feedback, and your dedication to Improving Lives and Planning for Tomorrow.

Happy New Year,

Gina Ross Murdoch
MSAA President & CEO

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January 2016 Artist of the Month: Celebrating the Work of Artists Affected by Multiple Sclerosis

MSAA is very proud to present our Art Showcase – celebrating the work of artists affected by MS.

We have received many wonderful submissions from across the country and are delighted to share their work and their stories with you. Please visit our online gallery to view all of the new submissions.

January Artist of the Month:
Janet Laycox – Winter

 Janet Laycox - Winter

About the Artist:
“My name is Janet Laycox. I was diagnosed with MS in 1994. I have Secondary Progressive MS and use a walker to get around.

I always feel so good when people tell me that they are amazed at how much I do. Yes, as most of us MS’ers know, we can do what anyone else does but in our own way. I have been volunteering at the West Milford Animal Shelter for 12 years. I am also a volunteer at our support group for MS, the ADA committee for my township and the Passaic County Council on Disability. A few of us from the Squeaky Wheels MS support group thought it would be fun to join in a community center oil painting class.

Well here is one of the first oil paintings I ever did. I must say I really enjoyed it, will continue and hope to improve.”
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Be inspired – please send an online card featuring artwork by MS artist Janet Laycox and spread awareness of MS and MSAA.

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Wishing You a Safe and Joyous Holiday Season

Happy Holidays 2015

There is still time to share holiday greetings and raise awareness about MSAA! This season, our festive cards include artwork by artists living with multiple sclerosis. Please visit support.mymsaa.org/holidaycards to send a holiday eCard to everyone on your list!

PLEASE NOTE:  MSAA’s offices will be closed Thursday, December 24th, through Sunday, December 27th. 

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December 2015 Artist of the Month: Celebrating the Work of Artists Affected by Multiple Sclerosis

MSAA is very proud to present our 2015 Art Showcase – celebrating the work of artists affected by MS.

We have received many wonderful submissions from across the country and are delighted to share their work and their stories with you. Please visit our online gallery to view all of the new submissions.

December Artist of the Month:
Bob Donner – Winter Birches in the Snow

 Bob Donner - Winter Birches in the Snow

About the Artist:
“I have MS, but I don’t let that define me. In my wheelchair, it’s obvious that I’m physically challenged, but I’d much rather be known as the ‘artist’ in the wheelchair.

Shortly after my diagnosis, I was on my computer one day and, on a whim, drew a bear using my mouse as my ‘pencil.’ It was far from perfect, but resembled a bear well enough to capture my interest. I began steadily developing the skill, and now most of my day is spent at my computer, mouse in hand, creating images on the screen.

When away from home, I’m observing everything around me, wondering how I would draw it. I especially like the drama of sunrises and sunsets. Each one is a unique display lasting several hours. My advice: Watch as many as you can, with the wonder of a five year old, and the eyes of an ‘artist.'”

Be inspired – please send an online card featuring artwork by MS artist Bob Donner and spread awareness of MS and MSAA.

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New Features Available Now on MSAA’s My MS Manager App

My MS Manager appCheck out the updated features on My MS Manager – MSAA’s mobile phone application, provided free of charge to individuals with MS and their care partners to use on your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or your Android mobile device.

My MS Manager, the first-of-its kind app created by MSAA to help individuals with multiple sclerosis better manage their disease, now offers new features – including a way to measure changes in fatigue and a way to connect and share information with your physician!

This free tool allows you to input and store important medical information, track symptoms and disease activity, and generate charts and reports across various metrics such as treatments, moods, symptoms, and more.

Other HIPAA-compliant features include:

  • private reminder settings
  • links to MSAA’s educational materials
  • a fatigue scale
  • **EXCLUSIVE to My MS Manager** – the ability to connect to physicians and members of your healthcare team via the app to share your progress and reports securely and as needed.

“In this world that is increasingly powered by all-things-digital, efficiency and clarity are at the top of my list. Having been diagnosed with MS as a 23-year-old, I wanted to do my best to take control of my health. Having a tool to help me do this has been extremely helpful. The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America’s mobile app, My MS Manager, allows me to not only keep track of all of my notes, meds, doctor info, labs, and journals, but also gives me access to local resources, current MS research updates, and so much more. I can now manage my disease with an incredible amount of clarity and efficiency – things I have not had before. A huge thank you to MSAA, for giving me the tools to be in control.” – Anna Webber, My MS Manager App Ambassador

My MS Manager is now available to everyone in the MS community on your Apple or Android mobile devices.

Google Play Store

Apple App Store

If you need assistance with the My MS Manager app, please call (800) 772-8277, ext. 178 or email us at apphelp@mymsaa.org.

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November 2015 Artist of the Month: Celebrating the Work of Artists Affected by Multiple Sclerosis

MSAA is very proud to present our 2015 Art Showcase – celebrating the work of artists affected by MS.

We have received many wonderful submissions from across the country and are delighted to share their work and their stories with you. Please visit our online gallery to view all of the new submissions.

November Artist of the Month:
Shana Stern – Austin, TX

Shana Stern - Karma

 About the Artist:
“This is my 15th year of having MS. While I try not to let MS define me, it dictates much of what I can and can’t do. My vision’s a challenge daily. My morning fatigue is debilitating. But I have something in which I can get lost in and forget all of my problems – my art. Since I can’t hold onto a brush, I paint only with my fingers. Getting lost in the music I paint to and helping the colors dance across the canvas has become my mental, spiritual, and emotional therapy. I’m so grateful for MSAA for all that they do and for showing the world that, yes, we may be knocked down a bit – we may have to work a little harder – but we are capable of great things, such as bringing beauty and art into the world.

I have MS. But I am an artist.”
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Be inspired – please send an online card featuring artwork by MS artist Shana Stern and spread awareness of MS and MSAA.

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MSAA Teams Up with Wines ‘Til Sold Out

WTSO fundraiser

Join MSAA and Wines ‘Til Sold Out (WTSO.com) on Tuesday October 27th for an exciting online wine sale to benefit MSAA in support of the free programs and services offered to the entire MS community.

On October 27th from 8 AM – 8 PM ET, WTSO will donate $1 for every bottle sold to MSAA during their ‘Member Favorites’ Marathon which features customer favorites and the most requested wine deals, all up to 70% off (with free shipping options available). WTSO Marathons are fast-paced days that include upwards of 60 wine deals in one day, each offered one at a time until sold out, with a new deal every 20 minutes or sooner if the previous deal has sold out.

Becoming a member of WTSO.com is free and easy. To sign up and receive reminders about this fundraiser, please visit WTSO.com/invite/msaa.

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Hi, Nice to meet you.

Hello Blog Community (in my best Good Morning Vietnam impersonation). My name is Roshawnda Washington but everyone calls me Ro and I’d like to take a few lines to introduce myself. I joined the MSAA team as an intern at the beginning of September and am so looking forward to working here. I’m currently working toward my MSW with the University of Southern California (Fight On!) after earning a bachelor’s degree in Biology. Why the switch you may ask…I was looking for something that would allow me to make a difference. About a year and a half ago I sat at work thinking that while I enjoy science and was working for a fantastic research institute I couldn’t see myself waking up in 10 years and still enjoying what I was doing. In typical Generation Y fashion I took to Google and typed in some of the words I was pretty sure I was looking for; people, help, professional, fulfilling, compassion, diverse and career. There were others like million dollars, international travel and fabulous but it took 6 seconds before I remembered that I’m not a reality TV star so my first few were probably good. Several things popped up and the one I almost immediately dismissed was Social Worker. “They’re the people who take children from homes and put them in other homes right”…Pass, that’s not for me and I continued on my search for my fabulous, million dollar (kidding) new path in life.

At work as I was speaking with some of our staff I expressed the new hunt for my future and someone mentioned, “you should look into social work”. I stopped and thought to myself, what are the odds. We began speaking about what Social Workers actually do, some of the areas where they are needed and specifically what the workers part was in our team at the hospital. I had previously had few occasions to interact with the Social Workers who partnered with our patient families and clinical teams. Getting to really speak with them I was able to learn that Social Workers are not the ‘baby snatchers’ or any of the negative stereotypes that many others and I had been associating with the vocation. Again I took to my trusty Google and in true predictive type mode it directed me to several programs offering an MSW and USC was at the top of the list.

Over the past year I have had the privilege of working with some wonderful professors and professionals as well as my fellow students to learn what being a Social Worker really is. I’ve been able to look at my parents’ history of being a foster family and the care that our worker put into each child she placed. In the VA workers who diligently and persistently advocate for veterans to make sure they are getting the services they need. In the awesome workers, who partner with families in hospitals to be the shoulder to lean on and the voice when they don’t know what to ask. I’ve learned that while many Social Workers do work with children and family services to make sure children are in caring and safe homes they also work in schools, therapist offices, businesses, corporations, hospitals, for counseling services and at non-profit organizations like here at MSAA (as well as a ton of places it would take a dozen blogs for me to list). Social Workers are professional, diverse, compassionate people who seek to help others fulfill needs and they do all this and more as a career (like how I used all my search words 😀 ). I will probably never make a million dollars, my international travel will be on vacations (unless I become that TV star) but I think that Social Workers are pretty fabulous and I’m beyond excited to get started on this path and see the difference I’m able to make.

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Greetings from the Northeast Region!

By Lauren Hooper

Greetings from the Northeast Region! I hope everyone has been doing well and keeping cool in these warmer months. Now that we’re in the thick of summer, we take a bit of a hiatus with educational programming in the Northeast, but come early fall, we’ll be in full swing again. We have more than 25 patient programs in this region alone and dozens in each of the other regions as well that we’re starting to schedule for the last half of 2015, so please keep your eye on our calendar of events to see if there are any coming up in your area. Here are some topics that we at MSAA are going to be bringing to various cities nationwide this fall and winter:

  • “Hot Topics in MS,” which focuses on the latest research and news in MS
  • “Swim for MS” programs focusing around how swimming and aquatic exercise can benefit those with MS
  • “Women’s MS Educational Summit” programs which specifically are targeted for women
  • “MS Educational Day for the Patient & Care Partner,” which is a series that will target both those with MS and the people that care for them, with care partners sitting in on a separate session to discuss how to take the best possible care of someone with MS and themselves
  • “Open Forum” style programs, which are much more informal and interactive, where the presenter will lead more of a discussion and focus heavily on Q+A from the audience
  • Larger “MS Education Conference” programs for patients and their families with multiple presenters at each program who will talk about their respective fields of expertise in the MS world (i.e. neurologists, nurses, PTs, OTs, etc.)
  • “The Day to Day Treatment of MS,” which will include a discussion on adherence & relapse management
  • “Research Advances in MS,” which will bring the most up-to-date information about what’s new and what’s in the pipeline to attendees

These are just a smattering of our educational offerings and we are constantly adding new cities and topics to our list, so please feel free to reach out to us if you have any suggestions for topics you’d be interested in learning more about! If you happen to be a resident in one of the states I cover, I hope to see you at a program this fall! If not, I hope you’ll visit one of my fellow directors in your region at a program near you!

* Lauren Hooper is the Northeast Regional Director at MSAA.

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