March is national multiple sclerosis (MS) month, and seeks to bring awareness the disease which affects more than 2.5 million people worldwide.
According to nationalmssociety.org, “MS is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. The cause of MS is still unknown, but scientists believe it is triggered by an unidentified environmental factor in a person who is generally predisposed to respond. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any person cannot yet be predicted.”
Denise Chicoine is a Connecticut-area nurse educator for MS One to One, a free program that provides personal support to people all over the country living with MS through one-on-one phone conversations.
“Patients call nurses to talk about things that they can’t always talk to families about such as challenges, feelings or physical changes,” Chicoine said. “I am someone supportive to work and collaborate with to come up with a plan to move forward with treatment.”
Chicoine said she is inspired by how her patients remain hopeful despite living with a chronic disease.
“This month is a time to raise awareness about this debilitating disease that affects more than 6,000 in Connecticut, alone. Each week, 200 people are diagnosed with MS across the country – news that has the potential to change the course of their lives forever,” Chicoine said.
Chicoine said that she develops a strong relationship with her patients, which is important because living with an unpredictable and invariable disease, it can be difficult when patients have to explain their stories to different health care providers.
MS One to One, created by Genzyme, an American biotech company, now has two MS approved programs, Chicoine said.
Chicoine said her job as a nurse is to help patients make decisions about treatment, be their own advocate and find wellness despite living with MS. She also said she provides information and offer tips.
“MS does require a support team it’s very difficult for patients to develop on their own,” Chicoine said.
Chicoine said she started working for MS One to One three years ago, not long after the program started. She said she had been a nurse for 30 years and has always been passionate in the educational portion and helping families.
“Every single day I’m inspired by my patients. They are tremendously courageous and have so much tenacity and inner strength,” Chicoine said. “I am struck by their hopefulness. It is very fulfilling. I find that I am receiving so much more than I give.”
Emma Krueger is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.