On Saturday, May 18th I will be heading to Fargo, North Dakota to run the Fargo Half-Marathon. Having run a number of half-marathons in the past this one is going to be different. Here's why.
My father, Mike, has been diagnosed with MSA, also known as Multiple System Atrophy. If you are like me, prior to my dad's diagnosis I had never heard of MSA and so as we began the intial journey into the world of MSA I wander through the confusion as to what the disease is and have begun exploring the nuanced facets of a disease so few people know about. When talking with medical professionals, the initial response is often times, "Is that a form of MS" or an even simpler, "I have never heard of that" so as someone newly impacted by what MSA truly is the road ahead is an unsure and confusing one but just like running a half-marathon we'll take things one step at a time.
So what is MSA? Multiple system atrophy is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by a combination of symptoms that affect both the autonomic nervous system (the part of the nervous system that controls involuntary action such as blood pressure or digestion) and movement. The number of Americans affected by the disease is less than 50,000. It's a wildly unknown disease, one without a playbook for how to wade through it and one without a cure as of this time.
Let's change that. The MSA Coalition has a primary purpose of assisting researchers to find a cure. In the meantime, The Coalition also provides much needed patient and caregiver support, educational resources, and advocacy to create awareness and to fight for issues important to the MSA community.
My dad has always been there for me and now it's time to do my part and I ask you to join me in trying to find a cure for MSA. I wish there was a simple answer with this disease; that with "x" treatment or with "y" pill he would be better but I understand it's just not this simple. So my pledge then is to do what I can do to help. Running a half-marathon is easy, particularly when compared to what my dad and all of those with MSA face so as I am pounding the pavement of Fargo, I'll carry with me the immense honor and responsibility of knowing that each step I am taking is hopefully one step closer to finding a cure for MSA.
So, will you join me in helping work to find a cure for MSA?