Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that affects the central nervous system and is characterized by a variety of symptoms including pain, fatigue, depression, muscle weakness, and organ dysfunction. While the manner in which the disease presents itself may vary from person to person, MS can drastically change the lives of individuals living with this disease and profoundly affect the lives of family members. Despite this, Ms. Nancita Rogers believes the scientific community is committed to finding a cure for MS, even though she understands this may be a difficult road to travel.
While MS initially may have had a negative impact on her life, both personal and professional, Nancita soon turned this hardship into a positive experience. She says, "The good news is the diagnosis of MS has made me much more appreciative of the things I can do, appreciative of the things I have, and has given me incredible freedom. Freedom, you ask? Yes, I get to get up each day - some days it's a longer and slower process than other days - and do whatever I have the energy to do. Now I swim and do water exercise... [and] ... as much cooking and baking as I have the energy to do..." In addition, Nancita reveals that last year she began traveling the world again, visiting Southern Africa. Nancita goes on to say, "Probably the best part of living with MS has been the wonderful people I've met who also live with this disease, as well as those touched by MS - doctors, researchers, other medical professionals, and care takers."
Even though Nancita's spirit was certainly tested by MS, she channeled her energy into working as a "non-profit manager and fundraising consultant," and advocate for those living with MS. She states, "Since 2002 I have been actively involved with the Maryland chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. I've filled a number of volunteer roles, but my passion is advocacy, and I'm the current chair of the Government Relations Committee. I am excited and proud of the work we've done to help inform policy to improve the quality of life for people living with MS and other chronic illnesses."
Continuing her quest to help others, Nancita served as a 2008 consumer reviewer for the Department of Defense Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program, which had MS included as a research area. Acting as a voice for the MS community, Nancita enjoys her role as an "advocate for policy and legislative matters that improve the quality of life for people living with MS," and she feels that "informing the scientific community is a better use of [her] time and energy." Nancita stresses that "[h]elping scientists understand our experiences with this disease may help speed efforts to find a cause and a cure."
Her role as a consumer reviewer has enabled Nancita to help scientists and clinicians understand MS from the consumer perspective. Regarding the program's peer review meeting, Nancita says she truly enjoyed getting to know the other members of the panel. She enthusiastically asserts, "It was a very positive experience and made me feel quite good about providing input for researchers to consider. I really felt I made a difference. What we do as peer reviewers is quite fulfilling and rewarding; I encourage others to participate."