“You have multiple sclerosis” is a phrase said by doctors nearly 200 times a week in the US alone, according to the National MS Society. The diagnosis can leave new patients feeling overwhelmed, confronted by a chronic, debilitating disease. Encouragement from others who have “been there, done that” can help them face MS head on.
“You’ve Got This is an opportunity for those living with multiple sclerosis to give advice to the recently diagnosed by recording a short video,” explains Tracy Rosecrans, Vice President of Marketing for Healthline, Inc. “For every video submitted, $10 will be donated to the National MS Society.” MSWorld is also helping to promote the campaign and raise money for the National MS Society.
Healthline is launching the MS awareness video project to help the newly diagnosed, letting them know that it’s not the end of the world, but rather the beginning of life redefined. This campaign comes on the heels of Healthline's success with a similar project to raise HIV/AIDS awareness, which rolled out in 2013.
“It took a few months to launch the first You’ve Got This campaign, [which] focused on HIV,” said Rosecrans. The inspiration “came from the It Gets Better campaign (targeting bullying and LGBT youth)”.
The Project Takes Off
Inspirational folks, including married MS bloggers Dan and Jennifer Digmann, have already submitted You've Got This videos. Both diagnosed with MS before they met, they tell their tale of falling in love and living a happy life despite MS.
“I find strength in my faith, family, friends, and Bruce Springsteen's music,” Dan told Healthline. “I work hard to empower myself and others. MS does suck, but I never complain.” He says he is “focused more on embracing and celebrating all that I have today.”
“In order for me to live happily,” said his wife, Jennifer, “I have to have support and be a support to others—my MS hasn’t changed that.”
Entering your own video is simple. “Anyone can contribute a video by uploading it to YouTube and sending us the URL,” explains Rosecrans, “Don’t worry about video quality—some of our best videos are homemade. The most important part is to speak from your heart. Imagine a good friend was recently diagnosed with MS—what would you say to them? What do you wish you had known when you first found out you had MS?”
Nicole Lemelle, the blogger behind “My New Normals,” chosen as one of Healthline's Best MS Blogs of 2013, also shared her video. Diagnosed in 2000, Lemelle’s advice is to remember that “The only difference between today and yesterday is now you know you have MS.” She added: “I live in the moment and don’t try to concentrate on the past or future.”
Healthline contributor and blogger Cathy Chester also has encouraging words for the newly diagnosed. “I believe that openly communicating your feelings is a powerful tool,” said Chester in her video. “Meditating and being mindful of the blessings in my life helps me as well. We have choices in life, and choosing a positive attitude goes a long way toward wellness.”
Even a severe disability shouldn't make you lose hope. “To borrow a popular phrase, MS is a marathon and not a sprint,” author and motivational speaker, Matt Cavallo told Healthline. “I couldn’t predict or prepare for the challenges of losing the use of my legs, eyes, or my cognitive functions. The challenge is in reacting and adapting to each relapse all while maintaining a positive outlook.” Cavallo’s video is also part of the You’ve Got This campaign.
Education Is Key
“Being newly diagnosed can feel like the end, but this is really just the beginning of a new and different life,” explained Rosecrans. “Educating yourself is key to living the best life possible. There are resources available to offer support, guidance, and hope.”
The National MS Society, partnering with Healthline to spread the word about You’ve Got This, is a great place for the newly diagnosed to begin learning all they can. They offer a Knowledge Is Power educational series, information about treatment options, and a list of support groups and programs around the country.
“Doctors, researchers and scientists are closer than ever to understanding the disease," says Cavallo. "There are disease modifying treatments that can help slow the progression of MS, many of which were not available back in 2005 when I was first diagnosed.”
So what do you say to someone who just found out they have MS?
“Believe in yourself,” encourages Dan Digmann, “surround yourself with incredible people, and don't give MS more credit than it deserves.” Jennifer agrees, adding: “Multiple sclerosis will not break you!”