Members of Parliament are helping the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada commemorate May as MS Awareness Month.
The lawmakers will be meeting with society representatives and other members of the MS community in the capital of Ottawa, May 1-3.
MS Awareness Month is a run-up to World MS Day on May 31, which is also aimed at improving the lives of patients with MS (#LifewithMS).
Canada has the highest rate of MS in the world. One of the missions of the MS Society of Canada is promoting an acceleration in research that can lead to new treatments, a better quality of life, and, hopefully, a cure.
MS community leaders hope to persuade lawmakers of the need for affordable MS treatments, housing that fits patients’ needs, home care, and age-appropriate long-term care.
They will also ask legislators to consider bills calling for flexible employment conditions for those with MS and other disabilities who experience disease flare-ups. And they will seek improved income and disability support for people with MS.
“Many of us living with MS don’t have the option of benefiting from new MS treatments, which could slow down the progression of our disease, due to a lack of government-funded drug coverage,” Marilyn Lenzen, who has relapsing remitting MS, said in a news release. “As our MS progresses, our independence is lost. Without sufficient home-care options, we’re forced to leave our homes for non-age-appropriate long-term care facilities.”
“Our government has the power to improve the current situation by increasing access to treatments” and “investing in comprehensive home care,” she added.
The annual MS Carnation Pinning Ceremony will take place in the House of Commons foyer on May 3. MS Society representatives, other members of the MS community and representatives of political parties will present carnations to members of Parliament as a symbol of solidarity with Canadians who have MS. During the day, lawmakers will present MS community members’ statements calling for support for the cause to other parliamentarians.
“Every day my life and the lives of countless other Canadians are impacted by multiple sclerosis,” Lenzen said. “There can be a lot holding us back.”
MS, a disease of the central nervous system, affects the function of nerve cells in the brain, and is usually diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50. It has an unpredictable course. MS episodes affecting almost any bodily function can occur in a seemingly random manner.
The most common symptoms are fatigue, numbness in the arms, legs or face, complete or partial vision loss, weakness, unsteadiness when walking, balance problems, and involuntary muscle spasms.