Sharing of information on new treatments and living with the condition
By Alison Rooney
“It takes time, several months, to pull people together,” said Sally Smith, who has taken that gestation time with a group she and a fellow multiple-sclerosis-diagnosed friend began late last year to share and support others nearby with the same illness. The group, which meets casually at the Cold Spring Coffee Pantry, was designed for sharing “how we’re doing, our treatment and what’s new.”
Smith, who has had MS for about 25 years now, said the changes in treatment during that time are extraordinary: “Back then there were only a handful of drugs and they were all injected — now they’re oral. In the past five years or so there’s been an explosion of activity in the treatment field, a lot of new research on diet and burgeoning fields emphasizing holistic treatment without medication — it’s very exciting.”
Introduced first to a friend of a friend through their shared condition, they heard, anecdotally, of many more in this area who had MS as well, and it was learning of this that stimulated them to start the support group, putting the word out through flyers, etc. Smith’s trainer at All Sport gym connected her with another woman, and slowly the group has built.
It’s still very small, and Smith likes it that way, for now. “It’s been a great chance to get to know each other,” she noted, “but we’re very open to anyone who is interested joining the group. Male, female, had it for years or new to it, everyone is welcome. We also have someone now who has a different illness, with some very similar issues, and we’re more than open to that as well.”
The group is self-help oriented, with no leader. “We’re completely casual,” said Smith, who in her professional life is a clinical social worker and acupressure therapist.
Anyone interested should get in touch with Smith via her cellphone, 415-420-4358, or email, [email protected] A specific date has not yet been set for the next meeting, but they have tended to take place on Tuesdays, 9 to 10 a.m.