Up Front: Accepting the “New Normal” for Life with Multiple Sclerosis

Photo of Gina Ross Murdoch
Gina Ross Murdoch

By Gina Ross Murdoch
MSAA President and CEO

You hear the news, “You have multiple sclerosis,” and wonder what is next and how you will handle this news. This edition of The Motivator focuses on how you and those around you may best begin and continue your MS journey, once you have become “newly diagnosed.” For readers who may not be “newly diagnosed,” you’ll find some interesting information in our cover story as well. As many of you will recall, prior to your diagnosis, you may have been searching for a reason for your symptoms without solid answers. Now that you have received that answer, you will probably have a myriad of questions about treatment decisions, employment, wellness, daily life, family, and so much more. While this can be an exceedingly challenging time, MSAA is here for all individuals affected by multiple sclerosis, with a wide array of vital services for the entire family.

All people diagnosed with MS come to accept their “new normal” in their own way and time. Do you want to attend an in-person program, or are you more comfortable learning about key information at home – through MSAA’s website, publications, videos, webinars, or by speaking with one of our Helpline specialists? There is no right way to begin your life with multiple sclerosis, either as the person living with MS or the family around him or her. Everyone approaches this differently. As you read our cover story, you will see that you are not alone on your journey and that MSAA is ready to offer support, resources, and connections, all free of charge to the MS community. 

In our “Thoughts about Giving” column, you will read inspiring stories of perseverance and determination by our Team MSAA endurance participants. This group of amazing volunteers committed to run or walk anywhere from a local 5K event to the Walt Disney World® Dopey Challenge of 48.6 miles! They participated in Rock n’ Roll events, Tough Mudders, and the Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna®.

Team MSAA Members at Disney World
(From left to right) Dan Scharett is joined by MSAA President & CEO Gina Ross Murdoch, along with Dan’s wife Elizabeth Scharett, race participant Katie Kern, and Dan’s daughters (and race participants) Rachael Scharett and Bekah Ware, for an enjoyable breakfast before the weekend races in Walt Disney World®.

I was among the runners who laced up and took off in support of MSAA. I joined Team MSAA as a full participant raising funds and completing a half marathon. I was running in honor of so many living with MS, who inspired me to keep going throughout the race. Their strength in facing the challenge of MS every day helped me cross the finish line along with the rest of the Disney team. 

You will learn the heartwarming story of Bekah and Rachael who took on the Dopey Challenge (48.6 miles) on behalf of their father, Dan Scharett, who is living with MS. 
I had the pleasure and honor of meeting Dan at our Team MSAA breakfast. I was moved by his determination to live life to the fullest – no matter what MS threw his way!

I hope you enjoy this issue and find it informative and inspiring. Most of all, I hope you see that MSAA is truly here by your side for the MS community, whether you are newly diagnosed, taking on the challenge of an endurance event, searching for critical resources, or needing to talk to one of our Helpline specialists. We are here to Improve Lives Today!

Gina Ross Murdoch is a seasoned executive in non-profit management. Her career includes leadership positions with chapters of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as well as the American Diabetes Association. Earlier, she spent 14 years overseeing development activities at a large chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, leading explosive growth initiatives and ground-breaking strategic projects. An active member of the community, Ms. Murdoch has held several town positions and volunteers for her college alma mater, Drew University.