August 11, 2003
Tribune Staff Writer
South Bend Tribune)
June Malin remembers the first clue that she had multiple sclerosis.
"When I had my first pregnancy, my eye went numb," she said. "From there, it got progressively worse."
In the 30 years since, the Granger woman has watched as the disease took pieces of her life away.
But she hasn't given up. And she urges others with this chronic, incurable disease to keep living the best way they can.
"With MS, every case is different," she said.
"When people call and say they've been diagnosed, I lend a listening ear."
She also adds her advice, gained through years of personal experience.
"You just have to try to forget you have MS," she said. "You may have MS, but MS doesn't have to have you."
These words of encouragement, delivered to dozens of area residents in the past 15 years or so, earned Malin a Community Advocate Award from the Indiana State Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
The award presentation was part of a news conference to support MS Counts, a statewide effort to make sure all MS cases are diagnosed and reported.
The current estimate is that one in every 750 Hoosiers has MS. Some 6,300 of them are registered with the MS society, but another 1,500 or more aren't.
Sean Coleman, South Bend city council member and an MS society volunteer, said the registration drive could bring more grants for research, treatment and education.
"The numbers count," he said.
Malin, who attended the event with her husband, Albert, can attest to how knowledge can make a difference to MS sufferers.
"Eight years after I was diagnosed, I went to my first support group," she said. "I liked the idea of being with other people who have the same disease.
"We can share ideas and talk about symptoms."
The goal is to live as normal a life as possible. In Malin's case, that meant providing a good home for her two children.
"I'm sure there were certain things they missed," she said. "They didn't have a mom who could go out and play ball with them because of the balance problems."
But through her contacts, she's learned there are ways to overcome many obstacles.
Since 1992, she's been using an electric scooter. "It's opened a lot of doors for me," she said. "There's a lot of adaptive equipment available."
She's lost most of the use of the left side of her body. She's grateful that her writing hand, her right, still works well.
Her home computer is voice-activated, so she doesn't have to hunt and peck with one hand.
She plays bridge, and she's an Avon lady. She put together an MS society newsletter from 1988 to 2000 and has served as a local group facilitator for the society.
One of the events she's helped organize, as an original committee member, is the annual MS walk.
This year, 600 walkers participated, raising more than $54,000, Coleman said.
The next big event is the MS bike tour on Aug. 23 at Eagle Creek Park
in Indianapolis. Information is available at the Web site www.msindiana.org
Copyright © 2003, South Bend Tribune