Fighting MS As A Community

A few steps into Dana’s home, the smell of essential oils spread through the air. Her eight-month old poodle, Attila, darts around sporadically, excited by the unfamiliar smells of a camera crew. Tripods begin transforming; camera and lighting locations are repeatedly changed to find the perfect angle. And before shooting commences, Dana George can be found looking on with an radiant and endearing smile.     

Today is a special day for Dana, because today she has a chance to share her story.

Dana’s story could understandably be confused with the story of an MS patient trying to raise money for life-saving stem cell treatment, or any patient fundraising for any treatment, for that matter. But there's nothing Dana George about that, and quite frankly we'll leave that story for the back page of a local newspaper.

The story of a quirky but undeniably cool, young mother of two, frustrated by the progression of her MS would be more accurate, but still lacking. The story of one woman’s anxious journey through a broken healthcare system, forcing a radical decision to pursue treatment in Mexico, would too be factual and equally upsetting. An idealized story of a 42 year-old woman’s existential journey to a foreign land and the unexpected rediscovery of herself sounds quite compelling, and is honestly a story I'd love to write. But it is not Dana’s story.

Dana’s story is a real one. One that truly captures the essence of hope and the power of goodness. It is not even a story of a 'patient' at all. Her story is simply one of a living, breath, feeling, loving, human being, willing to do whatever it takes to regain control over her life, so she can continue to do the things she loves.

I’d go as far as saying Dana’s story probably isn’t too different from your own. But while this story probably won’t fly off the shelves or get a nod from the Academy, it will absolutely bring a smile to anyone’s face, especially the more you get to know Dana. It will hopefully inspire acts of kindness and encourage an attitude of gratitude. It will teach us that pity and sympathy are wasted, zero sum emotions. It will even remind us that our fight, no matter the cause or reason, is far from a solitary one.

Dana's story is one that epitomizes the human spirit because of the number of hands that have touched it. Now Dana does have multiple sclerosis, but her MS says less about her than her being a loving wife, mother and friend. Her love for adventure and the outdoors show far more about Dana's personality than the state of her myelin sheath. Dana's affinity toward Reggae music, 90's HipHop, and Mini Peppermint Patties reveal part of who Dana is at heart. Does she also moonlight as a rainbow-haired, climate changing, slope shredding, superhero named Daynamo? To the doctor who told Dana she might as well accept her inevitable destiny in a wheelchair, she absolutely does not. But in the eyes of the team at HealthBeMe and her community, she certainly does.

Daynamo is the alter ego and superhero character of Dana K. George.

Yes, Dana’s degenerating central nervous system does make it a bit harder to walk everyday. And it’s not always sunshine covered slopes and rainbow hair for Dana. In fact, over the past ten years, her life has sometimes felt like she's snowboarding down a Black Diamond slope using a rusted trashcan lid as a board.  

She and her husband have, in fact, emptied their life savings and raised thousands of dollars in attempt to pay for a life-altering treatment. And if by her scheduled date of November 7th, they haven’t raised enough money, they will be once again faced with a long wait list, meaning more precious time wasted, and even higher costs in the coming year.

These are all unfortunate realities of Dana’s story. So yes, Dana is in many ways a victim of her situation. She’s been failed by American healthcare, big pharmaceutical companies, mercenary insurance policies, and in essence, her own body. Even so, she does have one force of limitless potential on her side, us.

Dana's community has come together to do what the US healthcare system could and would not... help give her access to the best available treatment.

We, as a community, are the reason people like Dana do not, and should not, give up hope. When our institutions fall short, as they do at times, it is up to us to join together, to share, to connect, and to pool our resources and abilities to help those in need. This is the backbone of any decent society, or at least what I think it was intended to be.

So I ask that you simply consider what you can do to help Dana’s story continue, not because she’s a woman who has MS, but because she is exceedingly more than that. So as you watch the videos and breach the surface of Dana's story, you’ll hopefully see that she would, without hesitation, do the same for any of us.

Thank You


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