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Flags to fly for MS month

An estimated 90,000 Canadians are living with MS: "The signs and symptoms sound very similar to a lot of other diseases"
turnbull-ms flag
Acting Taylor mayor Michelle Turnbull raises the MS flag outside of Taylor District Hall in May of 2019. May has, once again, be proclaimed as MS month by district council.

Both the City of Fort St. John and District of Taylor have designated May as Multiple Sclerosis month.

This past Tuesday, the proclamation was read out in Taylor by Mayor Rob Fraser. The declaration, for the district, will also include the society's flag being flown on one of the masts outside of municipal hall.

"MS, in a nutshell, is a chronic disease that affects the central nervous system. It typically impacts the brain and spinal cord," explains Sherri Mytopher, a volunteer and council member with the northern regional chapter of the MS Society of Canada. "It happens when the immune system attacks the nerve fibres."

According to the MS Society of Canada, our country has one of the highest rates of the disease anywhere in the world,

An estimated 90,000 Canadians are living with it; on average, 12 Canadians are diagnosed with MS everyday.

Most people, it says, are diagnosed with MS between the ages of 20 and 49 and the unpredictable effects of the disease will last for the rest of their lives.

Although there are medications that can be prescribed to lessen the impact for those afflicted with multiple sclerosis, to date, there's no cure.

"It's quite unknown as to what causes it," admits Mytopher. "Is it environmental? They say a lot of it is. It's not hereditary. The signs and symptoms sound very similar to a lot of other diseases, so it's a hard disease to pinpoint."

Mytopher knows all-too-well the impact it has on a person, having been diagnosed with the condition in 2013.

She has also seen its unpredictability, where an appointment or meeting is made only to be cancelled when the condition flares up with little or no warning. Symptoms can include numbness in the torso, legs, arms, and hands — the very same ailments that Mytopher experienced almost nine years ago.

"When I went to the doctor, they did some MRIs and they also found some lesions on my brain and spine. I've been taking medication for the last seven years. It helps, but I have relapses. For me, it keeps the severity at bay."

For others, the pain can be much worse.

While there have been advances in MS research, Mytopher knows more work needs to be done to find a cure.

"You have your good days and your bad days," she admits.

The raising of the flag, in some form, a symbol of hope for more good days, than bad.


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