How to piss me off

Actually, there are a lot of little, ultimately unimportant things that annoy me. But by far, one of the things that pisses me off the most is when people compare cancer to multiple sclerosis, as though they’re even remotely equal.

I shared this meme online:

One person, who has MS and is very negative about it, said she wanted a cure for cancer and MS. And that comment thoroughly and completely pissed me off.

Listen, MS can’t kill you. Cancer can. You’re actually much more likely to die from the side effects of MS treatments than from the disease itself.

I’ve always viewed my MS as little more than an inconvenience. Sometimes the symptoms can be scary, and if I’m around the wrong people, I focus more on being sick and that makes me feel more scared.

But I usually see my MS as being something I have to live with and manage, though it certainly limits some of my abilities. But I’m adaptable and I find workarounds.

I know some people with MS end up in wheelchairs. But the vast majority never do. Sometimes my feet really hurt (like right now) and I walk slowly as a result. My foot drop is worse and my right foot drags a little. But I still go to the grocery store and go out shopping. I don’t just stay home feeling sorry for myself but push through it as much as possible.

I’ve only had two falls in my lifetime. Once was when I had been sleeping in a chair while my husband was in the hospital and I was startled awake by one of his machines going off. The other time was when I tripped on jagged pavement outside the post office. I think either of those could’ve happened to someone without MS, too.

I think mindset and determination are so important when it comes to dealing with MS. The MS groups online are largely full of people feeling sorry for themselves and some even saying they want to die as a result of their MS. I have compassion for their suffering and allow for the possibility that my MS may simply be milder than theirs.

But I also think attitude counts for a lot. Stress is one of the biggest known triggers for MS and it makes sense that you can cause yourself unnecessary stress by focusing constantly on being sick.

When it comes to MS, I tend to believe that pity parties actually do make you feel sicker. I know this is the case for me because I talked about it a lot with a former friend and did feel worse about not only my illness but about my life in general.

Am I “happy as hell to be disabled”, as she put it? Of course not. But it’s also not an emergency, either. It’s something I live with and have to live my life a little differently than the average person. I have to manage it. Right now, I’m not doing particularly well with that, especially because I have new symptoms after coming off the Tecfidera. (Yes, I do think the Tecfidera made me worse than I was before I started taking it.)

But I also believe that it’s within my control to turn it around on my own. Now that I’ve recognized that I let things slip, I can work to get myself back on track.

Now, cancer is a totally different story, especially stage IV like my husband’s. Mindset only goes so far. The people who give up fighting and assume it’s a death sentence do tend to die sooner. But cancer is not the kind of thing where you can think yourself well or stay well with a positive attitude alone.

To compare cancer to MS is completely ludicrous and is honestly incredibly offensive to me. You won’t die from your MS. Period.

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