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OPINION: From Photography To MS, The Impact Of A Disease

About 400 people in the Coachella Valley have multiple sclerosis, a disease that targets the central nervous system.

A little over 10 years ago, I was living a normal life owning and operating a successful commercial photography studio in Pasadena. One day I noticed numbness on my left side and severe pain in my left eye.

Having always worn glasses, I thought nothing of the eye pain, but did go see our family doctor about the numbness. He referred me to a neurologist. Well, three years and three neurologists later, it was concluded that I had MS and my life would never be the same after that.

Thus began my involvement with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. They provided support, counseling and a wealth of information on how to deal with this thing. I also became very involved as a volunteer with the annual MS Walk.

Since moving to the Coachella Valley, I have had the pleasure of continuing my efforts with Suellen Evavold, who is the Director of the Society’s Desert office. She is a one woman show out here with everything else being done by volunteers. There are about 400 of us living in the Coachella Valley with MS.

This year, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors issued a proclamation declaring the week of March 12 through the 18 as MS Awareness Week and another one declaring April 21 MS Walk Day here in the Coachella Valley.

What we hope this week does is to make people more aware of what the disease is and how it affects lives and families. It is a devastating disease that most people do not understand. I cannot tell you how many times I am asked “Oh you have what Jerry’s Kids have.”

There is a tremendous amount of research going on to find better treatments and hopefully, one day a cure.

Until then I hope this week helps everyone understand what MS is and how it affects the lives of millions in the United States.

-John Schiavone
Palm Desert, California

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