Twenty-five years ago, Bolton Place resident Susie Howard was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord and can severely inhibit a person’s ability to move.
But Howard, who has run multiple marathons – even since her diagnosis – is not the type to stop moving. In her years with MS, she’s been lucky, she says, to have relatively good health. She credits that health to the research and medical support available to her. And this year, her 25th year with the disease, she’d like to give back.
“I’m grateful,” she said. “And I’ve been blessed.”
On Sunday, April 10, Howard is leading a team on the National MS Walk, which runs along the Charles River. Her goal is to raise $2,500 and get up to 25 people from the community to join her on the three-mile walk.
Already she’s raised $1,000, and recruited about a dozen people for her walking team, “Susie’s Doozies.” But she’s welcoming donations of any amount to get her to closer to her goal – and welcoming anyone who’s been touched by MS to walk with her. You can donate online by clicking here.
MS, 25 years ago
Howard can recall the day she first identified symptoms of MS. One Friday night she was at the movies with friends and her leg fell asleep. Nothing strange about that, she thought. But the next morning she got up and went for a run. “I had this weird sensation,” she said. “The whole half side of my body was numb.”
Back then the science on MS was not half of what it is today, Howard said. For years she sought a diagnosis for her symptoms, but MRI technology didn’t exist and doctor’s didn’t have much research on the disease to draw on.
In 1986, a couple of months after Howard ran her first marathon, the diagnosis came. “It was a relief in a way,” she said.
Her first 10 years with MS weren’t easy, Howard said. But more recently, effective drug treatments have come on the market and, in addition to that regimen, Howard is very mindful of her health. Here’s some evidence: In 2001 and 2002, she ran the marathon two more times with the MS marathon team.
Howard’s lived in Charlestown since marrying her Townie husband, Tommy, one of the founders of the Charlestown Recovery House. She’s a lifelong Bostonian who grew up on Beacon Hill. She and Tommy, along with their dog, will be gathering the Susie’s Doozies walking team on Sunday around 11 a.m. The walk officially starts at noon.
If you want to join her, give her a call at 617-241-8575. (It’s a dog-friendly event if your dog wants to go, too.) Or email her: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donations can be made online at this link. You can also mail checks to Howard, made out to National MS Society, c/o Susie Howard, 5 Bolton Place, Charlestown 02129.