Janelle Hutchinson, a Lloydminster resident has been dealing with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) for nine years now and it’s a disease that she has had to learn to live with.
MS is a autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system and according to the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Alberta has one of the highest rates of MS in the world. Hutchinson was first diagnosed in July 2009 and says her symptoms happened overnight.
“I had a hard time with balance, couldn’t walk down a hallway without running into a door, those kinds of things. A lot of vertigo.”
Hutchinson went to the doctor and was ordered an MRI right away. Her doctor told her that she had MS.
“I didn’t know what MS was. I knew that if it was a brain tumor it was operable, if it was a inner ear infection antibiotics were always the next step. So I just assumed that my doctor would take care of me and that this would go away.”
Symptoms of MS vary person to person, but some common symptoms include dizziness, pain, tremors and depression. Living with MS on a day to day basis has been a challenge for Hutchinson. She says that every day is different.
“It’s exhausting. I mean you always have chronic fatigue. Everybody’s different, I can only speak for me. I have a problem with balance, sometimes in the car my perception is a little off. Everyday day to day at home there are certain things I can’t do.”
Lloydminster is one of the communities raising funds for research and raising awareness for people like Hutchinson. Thursday morning they had there kick off to the 20th anniversary of the MS walk. Chapter Manager of the Lloydminster MS Society Patty Milnthorp says the Alberta MS society funds more money to researchers than the governments. The MS walk is one of their biggest fundraisers of the year.
“They go to research to find a cure and to also help those researchers find more disease modifying therapies, as well as funding our local services.”
The city’s MS Society has programs such as support groups, yoga classes and counselling. Hutchinson says there are lots of resources in the community to help newly diagnosed people.
“As patients of MS it’s very important to reach out to your society and find out what kind of means you can get and they’re there to talk, they’re there to help you adjust.”
The MS walk is taking place May 5th at Lakeland College. The MS Society is hoping to have 400 or more participants and is setting a goal of raising $120,000.