Jenny Nahhas has MS. It does not have her.
That’s the first thing the Escalon resident and Escalon High alum will tell you – multiple sclerosis is something that she lives with, but she doesn’t let it control her life.
Diagnosed with the potentially debilitating disease when she was just over 18 years old, she has been living with MS since 1993, the year she graduated. A dozen years of what she described as a ‘roller coaster’ existence stabilized in 2005 when she was entered into a double blind study and received a medication that basically “put my MS to sleep,” Nahhas said.
Though she is still fighting, the medication has helped tremendously and has allowed her to get back to more of a normal life, working, raising children and, now, continuing her involvement with the MS Walk in Modesto.
“My daughter has a mom again,” she said of her youngest daughter, Teagan, a sixth grader at El Portal Middle School.
This year’s MS Walk is set for May 3 and Nahhas will be part of Team Not MSing Around, to raise funds for research and also raise awareness of the disease.
Last year, Nahhas, husband Mike and Teagan, along with family dog Dasher participated in the MS walk and they plan to do the same this year. Older daughter Talon, 20, lives in Modesto.
“It is an invisible disease that most people cannot see and do not understand,” Nahhas shared.
She said many people often confuse those with MS as being intoxicated, because they can slur their words and walk with an unsteady gait because of the effects of the disease.
“Normal people are quick to judge us as being lazy, which is not true,” she explained. “Most of my group members would love to be able to walk around Costco and browse, but do not have the strength or ability.”
Nahhas has started a ‘support group’ online, with a Facebook page that has attracted members nationwide.
While there currently is no cure for multiple sclerosis, Nahhas said funds raised through the MS walk will help find the cure and provide life-changing treatment for those with the disease.
She currently takes Rituxan, which has been successful in keeping the disease in check but said that many people often develop antibodies to that medication. For now, it is working and that’s what she is focusing on.
“I do want the disease more known about and people to not judge so easily,” she said of what she is hoping to accomplish through participating in the MS Walk.
“I also want to thank my family for being there for me through everything,” she added. “My mom, dad, sisters Melissa and Rebecca Williams and also my husband, whom I met after having the disease for six years. He went into our relationship knowing full well that my future was completely uncertain with the MS. Without my family, I have no idea where I would be.”
The May 3 walk will be at Downey High School in Modesto and will feature a 1K and a 3K event. Nahhas has a personal fundraising page set up for the event: http://main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/JennyNahhas.
“I need to give back, do what I can,” Nahhas said, noting that people were there for her when she was first diagnosed and she wants to help others who are fighting the disease.
For more information, to join her team or donate, contact Nahhas at firstname.lastname@example.org.