By Fern Gillespie
For many years, Dr. Michelle King-Huger was a well-regarded educator working as a vice principal at several public schools in Harlem. Then, in 2007, her life began to fall apart. She lost her husband to heart disease. In 2011, her ongoing health crisis was diagnosed as progressive multiple sclerosis. She evolved from a cane to a walker to a wheelchair.
Recently, the Kaiser Permanente plan in Southern California reported that African Americans had a 47% increased risk of multiple sclerosis, while Hispanic Americans had a 50% lower risk, and Americans of Asian descent had an 80% lower risk of multiple sclerosis than white Americans.
Black people with MS may also have more aggressive disease progression, greater disability and different symptoms. This includes more walking, balance and coordination problems, more cognitive and visual symptoms, more frequent relapses with lower recovery and earlier disability.
Despite being in a wheelchair with complex health issues, Dr. King-Huger continued to work. She used her doctorate as an educator to write two memory advice books. Her first book was From DIVA to Disabled: A Determined Individual with a Victorious Attitude focusing on empowerment in times of medical crisis.
Balancing his healthcare routine with his passion for writing, Dr. King-Huger published America’s Battle Against the COVID-19 Pandemic and Social Injustice (Christian Faith Publishers) in 2021. This is a personal memoir and professional tracing the tumultuous and unforgettable history of the country. times from March to December 2020. “The coronavirus pandemic has stopped the world in its tracks. Daily routines that were considered part of normal life have been taken away from us,” she said. “So many people across our country and around the world now feel disabled and I wonder if this horrific experience will change the insight and perspective of man to show compassion for those who are less fortunate than others. . I wanted to share my personal thoughts from a cultural perspective. I use statistics, personal surveys, news reports and encourage ideas for personal growth of mind, body and soul, thought-provoking quotes and poetry, from my Maya Angelo to Barack Obama, via John F Kennedy and the Bible.
The Multiple Sclerosis Society has become a frontline advocate for African Americans with MS. On June 15-16, the MS Society will host the 2022 Black MS Experience Summit, an interactive two-day virtual program to connect with other members of the Black MS community. The summit will feature leading scientific and healthcare experts. Topics in this year’s program include diagnosis, challenges in care, understanding clinical trials and studies, removing stigma from mental health services, maintaining emotional and spiritual health, managing long-term outcomes, understanding treatment goals, and exploring complementary and alternative treatments.
Montel Williams, Jennifer Holiday, Lola Falana and the late Richard Pryor are some of the black celebrities who have spoken about living with MS. However, the medical industry has rarely conducted MS clinical trials on African Americans, so limited data is available on the impact of MS in blacks. To address these challenges, the National African Americans with MS Registry (NAAMSR) invites African American MS patients to join the registry.
“The National MS Society continues to be a driving force for MS research for the nearly one million people with MS in the United States,” said Daphne Mack, senior director, public/media relations for the society. . “For black people, new research has shown that MS is more widespread and more aggressive than previously thought, so more clinical trial participants are needed to find out why. That’s why the Society’s Black MS Experience Summit is a way to connect people to resources and information unique to the needs of the Black community living with MS.
Registration is free for the Black MS Experience Summit 2022 at nationalmssociety.org