Governor Cuomo signed a proclamation designating Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week March 12th through the 18th. Almost 12,000 people in upstate New York are living with the often disabling and unpredictable disease.
In honor of the awareness week, we spoke with Collin Broski is a 19 year old Mohawk Valley Community College student, who has been living with M.S. since he was first diagnosed at sixteen.
"I woke up and I had numbness in my foot, my right hand and foot--I thought they had just fallen asleep," says Collin.
But his foot hadn't fallen asleep. He went to the hospital where he was initially diagnosed with Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis--a one time occurrence. However, a few months later, Broski relapsed and had another incident, and that's when he was diagnosed with M.S.
"I was really calm for the most part surprisingly...I just couldn't be involved in sports and stuff, I'd still go to practice and had to just watch everybody. It was kind of a bummer."
His mother, Christine, says she had a really tough time with the diagnosis. "I was in denial, initially, to my thinking they had to be wrong, 16 year old kids just don't come down with MS."
But unfortunately M.S. does strike teenagers. That fact was difficult for both her, and Collin to deal with. "For quite some time, when he went to bed at night I know his last waking thought was am I going to be moving when I wake up in the morning?" says Christine.
M-S, a progressive disease of the central nervous system, interrupts the flow of information within the brain and between the brain and body. Symptoms include numbness, paralysis, loss of vision, and unsteadiness. There are different types, and Collin has the most common, as neurologist Dr. Lev Goldiner says. "The most common type is relapse and remitting M.S. is when you have an attack you get treated, you get better completely, then you have another attack a couple of months later, or years later."
Collin has yet to relapse again since he was 16. He and his mother both feel a lot of it has to do with his diet. Although Goldiner says he doesn't know of any scientific evidence that supports that, every person reacts differently.
Collin says he hasn't let M.S. change his life, he's still a very active, normal teen. "I think if anything it's made me have a more positive outlook on life...There's people like Montel Williams, Clay Walker, and coming from them they live completely normal lives, I figure why shouldn't I?"
Dr. Goldiner says he tells his patients living with m-s to always visit their doctor, take their medication, exercise daily, and take vitamin D--as a lack of vitamin D is often linked to the disease. Collin's mother suggests doing a lot of research if it's something that affects you. And she says, to enjoy every day.