Leslie Spencer is hoping to raise both money and awareness for a disease she knows all too well by holding a benefit spaghetti dinner on Saturday, Aug. 18.
Six years ago, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and all proceeds from next weekend’s dinner will go to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to help fund research for new treatments.
“I just felt like I needed to do something and I kept praying about it and then one night it just came to me to have a spaghetti dinner,” Spencer said.
The meal will be Saturday night at 6 p.m. at the Russellville Rural Fire Department.
There will also be entertainment and a silent auction. The price for an adult meal - which includes spaghetti, salad, bread, drink and a dessert - is $5 and a child’s plate is just $2.
Proceeds will go toward’s Spencer’s team goal for the MS Walk in Bowling Green later this month. The MS Walk is similar to the Relay For Life in Logan County which benefits the American Cancer Society.
“I’d like to see us have one in Logan County in the next five years or so,” Spencer said.
Multiple sclerosis (or MS) is a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system, which is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. Symptoms may be mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision. The progress, severity, and specific symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary from one person to another. Today, new treatments and advances in research are giving new hope to people affected by the disease.
Spencer was diagnosed with MS six years ago when she suddenly lost sight in one of her eyes.
After numerous doctor visits, they finally figured out what the problem was with a scan showed lesions on her brain.
“It took a while before they realized what was going on,” Spencer said. “But when they did an MRI of my head, they saw the lesions.”
Spencer is able to lead a fairly normal life, but isn’t able to do many of the things she once could.
“It takes a toll on you when you have to be out in the sun and the heat,” Spencer said. “Sometimes I can just barely move. I used to love to go camping and fishing - and I just can’t do those things anymore.”
Spencer has a handicapped sticker she uses in her car for very hot days so that she can park close because she isn’t able to walk long distances in the heat.
“I want people to realize that just because some people, like me, may not look disabled on the outside, we still have a legitimate reason for using handicapped spaces,” she said.
People with MS can typically experience one of four disease courses, each of which might be mild, moderate, or severe.
People with this type of MS experience clearly defined attacks of worsening neurologic function. These attacks—which are called relapses, flare-ups, or exacerbations —are followed by partial or complete recovery periods (remissions), during which no disease progression occurs. Approximately 85% of people are initially diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS.
This disease course is characterized by slowly worsening neurologic function from the beginning—with no distinct relapses or remissions. The rate of progression may vary over time, with occasional plateaus and temporary minor improvements. Approximately 10% of people are diagnosed with primary-progressive MS.
Following an initial period of relapsing-remitting MS, many people develop a secondary-progressive disease course in which the disease worsens more steadily, with or without occasional flare-ups, minor recoveries (remissions), or plateaus. Before the disease-modifying medications became available, approximately 50% of people with relapsing-remitting MS developed this form of the disease within 10 years. Long-term data are not yet available to determine if treatment significantly delays this transition.
In this relatively rare course of MS (5%), people experience steadily worsening disease from the beginning, but with clear attacks of worsening neurologic function along the way. They may or may not experience some recovery following these relapses, but the disease continues to progress without remissions.
Since no two people have exactly the same experience of MS, the disease course may look very different from one person to another. And, it may not always be clear to the physician—at least right away—which course a person is experiencing.