After pulling an all-nighter in the winter of 2004, I temporarily lost vision in my right eye. I was working at VH1 at the time and attributed the lost vision to the long hours of staring at the computer screen. After days of blurry vision, I felt it was time to see an eye doctor. Before I knew it, I was hospitalized, had a spinal tap, and was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at the age of 23.
At the time, I thought the doctors could give me a shot or prescribe a pill to cure me since I was not familiar with the disease. Unfortunately, my doctor informed me that Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic disease with no cure. It attacks the central nervous system causing chronic pain, muscle weakness, loss of vision, and countless other complications. Not only is there no cure, but also MS takes on different variations from person to person, which makes it very difficult to treat in any consistent fashion.
I thought to myself, “How could a 23 year-old be diagnosed with a disease like Multiple Sclerosis?” I was sad, frustrated, and angry that a disease affecting hundreds of thousands of people did not have a cure. I decided to take action by getting involved in fundraisers to support MS research, and ultimately, help find a cure. With my fellow community members, I biked. I walked. I took part in all sorts of fundraisers.
MS is very defeating at times, but I try to not let it get in the way of my work and the pursuit of my dreams. I moved to Hollywood last year to follow those dreams of working in the entertainment business. Things were going great until I woke up one morning and couldn’t move. I was back at the doctor when I found that I required herniated disc surgery, which happened to be unrelated to MS. As bad as it was being hospitalized and going through the physical pain of surgery and rehab, it wasn’t as bad as not being able to participate in all of my usual fundraisers for MS like the MS Walk and the MS Bike Ride. How could I contribute now?
Thankfully, I wasn’t completely immobile. As such, I attended numerous concerts put on by local musicians to keep my spirits up. After countless nights watching singer-songwriters and bands around town, I realized that there was another way I could help raise money and awareness for my disease – through music. That night in 2010, MSquared: Music Against Multiple Sclerosis was created and has continued with a number of events in both LA & NYC.
In 2014, a young woman named Stephanie Abrams contacted me regarding my diagnosis. Recently diagnosed herself she was curious to talk to someone who she can relate too. We hit it off and she has been on board helping bring MSquared to a new level of fundraising success.
I hope you support this cause and make a difference in the lives of many people suffering from Multiple Sclerosis.
Marni Blake Ellis, Founder