Anonymous, blogging at Self-injecting Chinese hamsters since 2007, points us to an online-only Newsweek piece "Pins and Needles" in their Health Triumphs column. The story features Gregory Roehrich who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 20 and made Betaseron his disease-modifying drug of choice.
"My first step was to start treatment immediately with an interferon drug that I inject every other day. (Starting treatment after a first "attack" is important, as it may help delay disability.) Luckily, in the six years since I was diagnosed, the disease has progressed little."For his 21st birthday, his parents gave him "a scheduled trip to go skydiving." In the six years since diagnosis, Greg has also enjoyed facing his fear of heights by rock climbing and "hanging on with my bare hands."
"It just goes to show you that attitude is a muscle you should flex every day. That's one reason why I still go climbing, too, despite my fear of heights. Whether it's on cliffs, mountains or boulders, I've climbed roughly once a week since I started three years ago, and it's taken me everywhere from Las Vegas to Italy and Switzerland. So far I've done all it without a wheelchair, walker or cane—in fact, without any hint of disability."Then, Carole blogging at Carole's MS Blog, points us to "The Image of MS," [editor's note: The Image of MS website has been taken down since this original blog posting. Portions of the exhibit are visible on MS-Pathways.] a photographic exhibit of 27 individuals living "normal and active lives" despite facing a life with MS. Regarding the project, photographer Joyce Tenneson had this to say:
"It is my vision that these portraits will help change public perception that people with multiple sclerosis (MS) lack independence or strength. They are ordinary people who, despite having a sometimes debilitating disease, manage to live normal and active lives.
"I have always believed that art should be used to change the world. I saw the chance to work on this initiative as a "gift from the gods." Multiple sclerosis remains a mystery to the public at large, so this was an opportunity to capture the real face of people living with MS.
"Everyone I photographed has a truly inspiring approach to life, and I was overwhelmed by their positive attitudes and moving stories — all portraying a common spirit of strength, determination and hope. I sincerely hope that people who visit this site take away a little bit of inspiration from the participants about adapting to life's challenges and overcoming them.
"I think, often, there's an untold beauty about people who overcome challenges like MS to live the kind of life many of us take for granted. There's grace in the everyday existence of every person in this exhibit. That's what I wanted to capture — the real-life storytellers, the ones who can replace myths with reality and turn misconceptions into understanding. Being a part of that transformation is my focus and honor."
Although the stories are inspiring, they are limited to patients who use Betaseron because The Image of MS is now a pharma PR website for Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc. who completed the incorporation of Berlex Laboratories into their company in early 2007.
[Here is an undated article which describes the original "Image of MS" website and the work of one participant.]
[Here is the March announcement for "The Image of MS" photographic exhibit which has been traveling through Europe, Asia, etc.]
It's fine and dandy for a pharmaceutical company to use inspirational stories to promote their products. In fact, we need inspiration every once in a while. It's good for the soul.
But what I find most interesting is that Gregory of the Newsweek column happens to be one of the featured "Images" of the photographic exhibit launched in 2006 for Berlex Laboratories. And - the contact person for the "Images" site is from Ogilvy Public Relations, a PR company with a flair for internet communication which influences consumer beliefs and behavior.
The name Ogilvy caught my eye specifically because I have noticed many visits to my little ol' blog from someone in their New York office. I don't doubt but someone is researching how to motivate and reach those of us with multiple sclerosis or other health issues around the world wide web.