All About Multiple Sclerosis

More MS news articles for March 2004

Support of friends makes MS battle easier

They'll walk at Legoland to help fund research

March 5, 2004
Sharon Shapiro
San Diego Union-Tribune

Catherine Carson has a great set of friends.

Her hairdresser has been saving tip money for Carson for two months.

Last year, another friend passed out fliers to people on her bowling league.

"It's hard to ask people for money," said Carson. "I'm thrilled with anything anyone can do."

Next weekend, Carson and 13 friends will take part in the National Multiple Sclerosis Society's MS Walk in San Diego. Money raised will fund research as well as provide programs and services for people with MS.

Her team, Catherine's Crusaders, will wear bright yellow T-shirts to walk the 5K course. Many of them are from Scripps Clinic in Carmel Mountain Ranch, where Carson works in administration.

Carson was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis nine years ago. The chronic autoimmune disease of the central nervous system can cause muscular weakness as well as loss of coordination, speech and vision.

Carson is lucky, however. She's able to live her life without any major adjustments, although she has had to give up playing tennis and riding her bike.

It has taken her years to let others know about her illness.

"I didn't really tell a whole lot of people, because I didn't really have a bad case of it, and I still don't knock on wood," said Carson, 48.

A few years ago, when she heard about the MS Walk, she thought, "I know there are people out there who really need help."

Carson wrote a letter about her disease and the benefit walk and sent it to everyone she knew.

The outpouring was incredible. She raised $5,000.

"I was just shocked I could do that," she said.

When Carson was hired at Scripps clinic in 1998, she didn't tell co-workers about her condition.

"I wanted people to kind of accept me as me not as the girl with MS," she said.

Then one day at work, Carson fell. She couldn't get up on her own.

"My co-worker asked me, 'Are you OK?' I said, 'No, I need help.'"

Her co-worker brought her a cane that Carson kept in her car. Soon most people she worked with knew she had the disease.

"Everyone at work is so supportive of me. I don't know why I didn't tell them before," she said.

Her motto in dealing with her illness is to not let it control her. She takes pride in the fact that she doesn't miss work because of the illness.

"I'll always have MS," she said, "but MS doesn't have me."

To strengthen her muscles, Carson spends 30 minutes each night on a treadmill in her home in Rancho Bernardo. She receives weekly intramuscular injections that slow the progress of the disease.

She has some weakness and pain in her left arm and occasional leg spasms.

"If I hadn't shared it, it would only have been my sister (who knew)," Carson said. "Now it makes it so much easier."

The San Diego County Credit Union MS Walk 2004 will be at 6 p.m. March 13 at Legoland California, 1 Legoland Drive, Carlsbad. A second walk will take place at 7:30 a.m. March 14 at Embarcadero Marina Park South, Harbor Drive and Eighth Street, San Diego. Information: (858) 974-8640 or

Copyright © 2004, Union-Tribune Publishing Co.