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    Pittsburgh woman builds strong support network to help with challenges of multiple sclerosis

    When Judy Metzler was first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 54, she was in shock – she felt too young to have a chronic disease. Judy wanted to learn more about it, but didn’t know where to turn. That’s where her husband, Jeff, stepped in.

    “Without Jeff, I wouldn’t have made it through those first few days and weeks,” says Judy. “He was there to keep me positive and help me research the disease.”

    With her husband’s support, Judy was able to come to terms with her diagnosis, gaining confidence along the way.

    MS affects about 400,000 people in the United States, often impacting people in the prime of their lives. Symptoms can range from numbness in the limbs to fatigue, pain and loss of vision.

    The Importance of Support Partners

    “For people living with MS, support partners play a key role in helping their loved ones build resilience, which helps them feel better about themselves,” says Tricia Pagnotta, a nurse practitioner and member of the International Organization of Multiple Sclerosis Nurses (IOMSN).

    As Judy became more accepting of her new way of life, she began opening up to others for assistance. Her sister, Susie, has helped drive her to appointments and activities, like ballroom dancing classes for people with MS.

    A few years after Judy learned she had MS, her cousin, Kim, was also diagnosed with the condition. Judy then made every effort to be a support partner to Kim.

    “I understood how important it was to have someone there to help me overcome the initial shock of diagnosis, and I wanted her to feel that same level of support,” says Judy.

    Today, Judy and her cousin share a deeper relationship than ever before – as support partners and women living with MS. It’s this unique bond that allows them to inspire each other through the ups and downs of living with a chronic disease.

    Beyond building connections with others, Judy seeks out online resources to stay informed about MS. She recently discovered, which provides tools, tips and inspiration from people living with MS and other expert contributors. The site features insights on topics ranging from diet and exercise, to work, travel and emotional health. Judy also volunteers with MSWorld, the largest all-patient-run MS organization worldwide, and participates in a monthly MS support group.

    Throughout Judy’s experience, she has learned to find support from a number of places.

    “I’m so grateful for family, friends and those I’ve met in the MS community for their constant patience, assistance and inspiration,” says Judy. “Having these people by my side – through the good and the bad – keeps me motivated, and I cannot thank them enough.”

    While Judy has grown her support network, she continues to lean on her husband for his ongoing help and strength.

    “It’s been thirteen years since my diagnosis, and he continues to be a true support partner to me,” says Judy. “Through the challenges of life with MS, he finds ways for us to continue to do the things we love.”

    For insights from a range of people affected by MS, as well as additional educational resources, visit

    Please talk to your doctor as a primary source for MS medical information.

    This article is sponsored by Biogen.

    2017 Biogen. All rights reserved.

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