Momentum S P R I N G . 2 0 1 1 The magazine of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society
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Putting it together
Once upon a time, a doctor knew everything. The kindly neighborhood practitioner of Norman Rockwell fame could even fix a broken doll. It was patronizing, for sure— but it meant a person didn’t have to take on very much
when a life-changing diagnosis came along. Let’s face it. There was
a measure of comfort in the “doctor knows best” world. The road
ahead was not full of forks, optional detours, muddled direction
signs—and the burden of responsibility.
That’s not life with multiple sclerosis today. In fact, nearly every
year, managing MS grows a bit more complex. The feature on new
drugs is a case in point. All of the new drugs appear to have power-
ful advantages. But none of them reach our movement’s gold stan-
dard: “Stop MS in its tracks.” As for “Repair the damage,” the news
is still preliminary. And all of us are waiting for a future day when
we can say, “MS is ended forever.”
In the world reported on in this issue—and the feature story
covers only the top tier of treatment options that may be offered
in clinics in the near future—each new option is bringing with it
a fresh demand for personal choice. (See pages 21–29.)
The kindly doctor of legend can offer a set of guidelines, a
professional assessment of an individual’s status, risks and possible
future … but no guarantees. Each person with MS has to weigh
risks and benefits and match personal needs to the likelihood of a
positive outcome. It sounds—and it is—daunting. On the other
hand, informed choice is a pathway to harnessing the powerful
impact of expectation and optimism. In this issue Dr. Bowling
proposes that placebo and nocebo responses are an intrinsic part of
therapy outcomes. Will they be positive or negative? (See page 45.)
People with MS and those closest to them will be involved
in putting it all together. Deciding what to trust. Determining
how to participate. And, as has already been demonstrated by the
involvement of so many in the new Strategic Response, steering the
National MS Society into the most helpful directions.
Martha King, Editor, Momentum
National MS Society
733 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10017