‘Every day is challenging’

LIHUE — Support is so important, said Joy Ortiz Zimmer, who lives with multiple sclerosis.

“The owners of where I work, Sleeping Giant Sotheby’s International Realty, my husband, and everyone is so supportive,” Zimmer said. “Without support, MS can be a very debilitating disease.”

Zimmer was diagnosed with MS in 2009 after suffering a hard fall while rushing to retrieve a fax in her office.

“My mother had MS, so I was not that surprised,” Zimmer said. “When I fell, I had no feeling in my legs. I called my doctor immediately, and he put me on steroids, which brought back the feeling. I remember him telling me I have to keep walking and exercising.”

She said living with MS can be challenging because everyone suffers differently.

“By the grace of god and a good diet, I can walk,” she said. “Mobility is huge.”

She said when she got involved with Walk MS, she met people like Cynthia Edralin.

“Cynthia is fabulous,” Zimmer said. “She had her Valentine’s chocolates, a cookbook she published, and a lot of support from everyone.”

Laurie Nakama came in after being diagnosed and started a self-help group, which meets each month offering support for people affected by MS.

“I recently met a girl who is ashamed of admitting she has MS because she is afraid of losing her job,” Zimmer said. “We don’t know how many other people who are ashamed of having this disease.”

Walk MS-Sunset Stroll is scheduled for Saturday, April 4 at Kapaa Beach Park. Zimmer said the event is a perfect opportunity for people who are affected by MS to come and meet others who are living with it or have loved ones who did.

MS is an inflammatory disease where the insulating covers of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are damaged, affecting breathing and muscle movement.

It’s estimated about 2.5 million people are affected across the world. There is no known cure for the debilitating disease.

“The walk, a fun and family-oriented event, is not just for fundraising,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for those who are affected by the disease to come out and get support for their efforts at coping with MS.”

Registration for Walk MS-Sunset Stroll starts at 4 p.m. with the 1.5-mile walk starting along the multi-use path starting at 5 p.m.

Call Zimmer at 635-8065, or Nakama at 639-2883 for more information.

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