20 years ago I had big hair! Take a look at this picture of me with my cousin Jennifer and you will see this is true. I am the one on the left.
Hopefully, after reading this, Jen will forgive me for sharing this picture with you, because, her hair is even bigger. Jennifer and I both attended the same all-girls high school on the upper east side of Milwaukee and she was a year behind me. We have both known each other all of our lives really and she was my best friend in high school. She is like one of the sisters I am privileged to have in my life for the majority of my life.
As you can see from this picture in our younger days, we have been life long friends.
Today, Jennifer is a single, divorced Mom of a delightful five-year old named Nicholas. Jen was also diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis about four years ago right after our grandmother's funeral. Luckily, she has the least progressive type, but, nonetheless, it is something she wrestles with on a regular basis. She has what doctors call the Relapsing, Remitting type. People with this type of MS experience clearly defined flare-ups, also called attacks. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (2006), these attacks are episodes resulting in acute worsening neurological function.
Jen could probably tell you in more detail that this description is just part of what she experiences. I know that it also affects her immune system, her eyesight, and her energy level to a greater degree. Each time she has a flare-up, it can take her several days and sometimes weeks to recover. And although, we don't know for sure that MS had an affect on her ability to have children, our family knows that having Nicholas was a miracle in itself. Jen had to undergo invetrofertilazation to become pregnant at all. She was able to conceive twins, but, unfortunately, the other child passed on before she reached the end of her second trimester. Regardless of this disease, Jen lives a pretty full life. She works from home for an insurance company with a team that produces instructional materials. She is also a terrific mom, a gifted crafter, a great person to laugh with and a wonderful friend.So you see that Jennifer is a very brave person I admire much in my life. I hope that she realizes how much I appreciate her friendship and knows that I will always be there for her. I am posting an additional picture of us from my wedding.
Here our hair is not quite so big as it used to be. This year both of us will be walking again in the Walk MS 2009 event to prevent a world free of MS. We also have another reason to walk this year because our Aunt Teri was also recently diagnosed. Although, this is not what I had planned on writing about, it was certainly worthwhile if it helps others to learn a little more about this disease. I know I have just scratched the surface, so I am including the Web site for the MS Society as well. More information is available at http://www.nationalmssociety.org/. I look forward to at least 20 more years of our friendship with your help.