May is MS Awareness Month

There are 12,000 people and families in B.C. affected by MS, a chronic, often disabling disease.

Not only is there a provincial election in May – but – May is MS Awareness Month as well. Both of these events are very, very important.

Canada has the highest incidence of Multiple Sclerosis (MS), in the world. In British Columbia, there are 12,000 people and their families, who are affected by MS, a chronic, often disabling disease of the central nervous system comprising the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve.

Hi, my name is Patti and I am the chair of the Interior Regional Chapter Board of the BC/Yukon Division of the MS Society of Canada. I was diagnosed with MS 27 years ago and it has greatly impacted my life. I started my dream job as a Physical Education teacher in September 1989 and in March 1990 I was diagnosed with this undermining disease. My career as a PE teacher was cut short. I was devastated! Every day, 3 more people in Canada are diagnosed with MS. With your help to raise the profile of MS we can work to make it a thing of the past.

Many living with MS don’t have the option of benefiting from new MS treatments due to a lack of government-funded drug coverage. As their MS progresses, insufficient home care options or not enough income to pay for supports, forces them to leave their homes and families, even at a young age, for long-term residential care facilities. They are faced with physical challenges every day because buildings don’t have adequate wheelchair entrances or accessible washrooms.

To bring these issues to the forefront, the MS Society of Canada, BC and Yukon division, is urging the incoming government of BC to take action in 2017 for people with MS, in four key areas:

• Age-appropriate home and community care for people with MS of all ages

• Increases to the Persons With Disabilities payment, indexing the payment to inflation

• Access to therapies by adding new and better Canada-approved MS medications like Lemtrada to the BC Pharmacare formulary

• The enactment of a BC Disability Act to ensure accessibility is made standard in B.C.

Our government has the power to improve the quality of life for people with MS, by increasing access to treatments, investing in comprehensive home care, and enhancing access through accessibility. Change has started, but more needs to be done. I want to make sure the government is aware of the critical gaps that still remain for people with MS.

I encourage those in our community whose lives have been touched by MS to join me. To learn more about the ways you can take action as the election approaches, go to www.mssociety.ca/support-services/programs-and-services/386/take-action-bc-and-yukon-division

And don’t forget – May is MS Awareness Month so spread the word!

Patti Bevilacqua

Grand Forks

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