People say lots of silly things when they hear you have multiple sclerosis. “It could be worse… you could have Lou Gehrig’s disease.” Um, okay, I suppose MS usually doesn’t quite rank up there with ALS in terms of nasty neurological diseases. Wow, I feel so lucky. Maybe today I should play the lottery, too. “I know someone who has MS and she just climbed the Seven Summits.” Her name is Wendy Booker, she’s not your normal MSer, and I’m pretty sure I’m not seeing the summit of Everest unless it’s in an IMAX theater. (Okay, technically I did see the summit… from an airplane flying from Bangladesh to Bhutan a few years ago, but seriously.) “I have a couple friends with MS, Stacey and Madison. And Madison is doing great!” I know this may come as a shock, but even with MS I still have the powers of deductive reasoning. What the hell happened to Stacey? Wait, don’t tell me. “My aunt had MS… she died.” Oh, my favorite. I know someone who had MS. Thanks for sharing.
People mean well, they do (and I’m sure most are clueless as to what to say), but there has always been one comment that, at least until recently, had grated on me more than most. “At least you don’t have cancer.” When I was diagnosed I would have disagreed with that statement, indeed argued. Unlike with MS, with cancer you have a chance to beat it. I have a few friends my age who have beaten it, even from the depths of Stage IV, and are living pretty darn normal lives. But I also know those who have lost that fight far too young. It’s devastating. Permanent. Those individuals almost certainly would have chosen our fate. Trust me, you don’t want cancer. At least with multiple sclerosis, there is ongoing cutting-edge research (beyond the ever-talked-about CCSVI) that could change the face of this disease. And unlike cancer sufferers, time is on our side. One day we’ll beat this. Yeah, I said it. We’ll beat this. Until then, when I tell people I have MS, I personally prefer hearing the simple “That sucks, sorry.” Yes, it does. For now, that is.