TULALIP — Marysville’s Samantha Love knows all too well the devastating, yet deceptively invisible, impact that multiple sclerosis can have on someone’s life, since it ended her military career.
Love served four years in the Army, including time on the ground in Afghanistan, but after experiencing a range of symptoms — among them tingling in her limbs, random periods of shaking, headaches and round-the-clock fatigue — she was diagnosed with MS in September of 2010, just before her 21st birthday, and honorably discharged in July of 2011.
Love and her friend and fellow MS sufferer, 57-year-old Linda Goldberg, are leading the “All You Need Is Love ... and a Cure” team for this year’s Walk MS fundraiser in Snohomish County, whose three-mile walk route will start and finish at the Tulalip Amphitheatre on Saturday, April 13. Their team has raised nearly $13,000 toward their $15,000 goal as of April 1, making them one of the top fundraising teams for this year’s Walk MS in Snohomish County, but Love’s medical expenses underscore the degree of financial need facing MS patients.
“I wasn’t able to start collecting disability until November of last year,” Love said. “Until then, all of my medical bills were being covered by my own insurance and out-of-pocket co-pay. Medical bills last year ran me $6,000 out-of-pocket. The injections I have to take would have cost me $14,000 without insurance.”
While Goldberg suffers from progressive MS, Love’s MS has been diagnosed as relapsing and remitting, which poses its own problems.
“One week, I might be fine, but not the next,” Love said. “My legs will go out at random, but sometimes, I don’t need a cane at all, and that can change in an instant. People start to think you’re a hypochondriac, because they’ll look at you and say, ‘Oh, but you look so good,’ but you never know when the MS will strike, or when it will stop.”
While Love is forced to worry about her own symptoms, she also expressed concern for the long-term plight of progressive MS patients such as Goldberg.
“It’s awful to see Linda getting worse, especially after all that she’s done for me,” Love said. “I’m really doing this for her, before it’s too late, because the average person with MS tends to die seven years sooner than those without it.”
For more information on Love and Goldberg’s “All You Need Is Love ... and a Cure” team, log onto their website at http://main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/AllYouNeedIsLove.
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. It usually affects people between the ages of 20-50, with varied and unpredictable symptoms including numbness, loss of balance, vision problems and paralysis. There is no cure for MS, but the Walk MS fundraisers aim to continue improving the treatments that help people live with and manage the disease.
The three-mile Walk MS in Snohomish County is set to kick off at 10 a.m. on April 13, after a 9 a.m. registration followed by a short program at 9:30 a.m., all at the Tulalip Amphitheatre.
For more information, contact the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Greater Northwest Chapter by phone at 1-800-344-4867, ext. 2, or online at www.walkmsnorthwest.org.