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20 talk ms

leader gets as much as she gives When Anne Konieczny’s son Alexander was diagnosed with MS a week before his 18th birthday, she didn’t know what to do. “It took me a while to get over the shock of the diagnosis,” Anne said. Anne wanted to learn more about the disease and the National MS Society and also wanted to find some support. Without a Talk MS group in her area of Washington, MO, Anne took matters into her own hands and volunteered to start and lead a Talk MS group. “It was mainly because I was seeking support,” Anne said. “I had some time to give something back and do something for the National MS Society. I felt like being a Talk MS group leader would be a good venue because there was a need here, but it’s also for me.” The Washington Talk MS group meets monthly and usually has about 10 people in the meeting, though the mailing list includes 30. Anne arranges to have speakers at the group including a social worker, a pharmaceutical company representative, an MS nurse and representatives from the Chapter. When the group doesn’t have any guest speakers, the members still enjoy just getting to-

MS connection: Summer 2012

“you can read all this material on your own, but you learn so much more when you have a conversation or learn from someone else’s experience.” gether to support each other. “We really enjoy just meeting like this and talking about mostly MS-related topics,” Anne said. “I let the discussion go where it goes and try to guide or direct it a little bit. It’s really a positive group. We get together and bring food and focus on giving people information and encouragement and discuss what people are interested in.” Anne has learned quite a bit in her two years of being a Talk MS group leader and gets just as much if not more from the group as she puts into it. “You can read all this material on your own, but you learn so much more when you have a conversation or learn from someone else’s experience,” Anne said. “It also makes me feel like I’m not alone. It can be overwhelming. It may be easier if I had MS, but for me it’s my child who has MS which is really tough. The group keeps me sane. It shows me that other people are OK, they have a good quality of life and are positive people. They appreciate what life has to offer for them and they contribute – just like any other person. That helps me deal with the thought of my child having MS.” n


MS Connection - Summer Edition 2012