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Interview with Tony Ferro from ChangeMS

By Bidya Dahal

Multiple Sclerosis aka MS is a condition that affects the nerve coding, brain, and spinal cord can cause a wide variety of problems. Western New York has the second-highest rate of people living with MS. That may be surprising for some. Change MS is an organization looking to help people feel better not physically, but mentally and emotionally. During the last week or so, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tony Ferro, the founder of Change MS, and had the chance to learn more about MS, his experience with MS, and the need he saw for an organization like Change MS.

Tony Ferro was officially diagnosed with MS in 2012, even though his symptoms started appearing around 2009. He describes his stubbornness and refusal to go to the doctor till he lost all feeling from the neck down as the reason for the three years it took to get diagnosed. With little to no information on what MS was, thus as he puts it in his own words "I was basically sent home with three binders full of medication and it was up to me to read through those binders and chose which drug I wanted to take."

Despite reading all the information regarding the drug, he was still dissatisfied with the lack of information regarding the term effect and side effects of the drugs. Thus, his frustration about the lack of information and care provided by the medical profession pushed him to look for other options. As he learned more about MS, it led him to look closely at his diet and lifestyle, often overlooked when individuals are diagnosed with MS.

Therefore, Change MS started as a place to bring the MS community together and help provide tips to improve their life. As Tony put an individual with MS "have a lot going against them." No people with MS are alike, however, it can affect almost every aspect of an individual from their immune system to eyesight to cognitive function to mood disorders to loss of motor function. Apart from that, the lack of proven causes for MS, makes it difficult to find the right information about MS.

Due to this, Change MS looks at MS from a different perspective where diet and lifestyle are a central focus in maintaining the MS and keeping it from flaring up. However, due to the lack of data and research looking at lifestyle and foods' impact on MS, both patients, and medical professionals are hesitant of adopting this new view on MS. For anyone looking for information about Change MS, the link to their website is provided below.

For Tony, nor he or Change MS advocates against medical care, but their goal is to look at MS from all facets. Tony himself works with a medical professional to help a newly diagnosed individual with MS adjust to life and understand more about it.

The 30 minutes interview with Tony has given great insight into MS and the goals of Change MS. However, it was impossible to fit every tiny detail about it in this blog, due to which I encourage people to check out their website, to learn more about them. Before ending the blog, I will leave you with the one thing Tony hoped people would take away from this interview:

"No matter what you are going through, you have to be kind to yourself. Acceptance is the key to getting through anything."

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