By William K. Alcorn
Carol A. Danus, living with multiple sclerosis for 44 of her 63 years, said she has been blessed.
“I have been able to take care of myself and provide what I’ve needed to survive,” the Boardman woman said.
She also helps others in the area with multiple sclerosis (MS) as president of the board of the Multiple Sclerosis Services Agency (MSSA) for the Mahoning Valley.
The local MSSA, which is not affiliated with any national organization, is having its 21st Annual MS Super Walk on Sunday at the James L. Wick Recreation Center off McCollum Road.
Registration is at 9 a.m. for the four-mile walk, the group’s single-largest awareness and fundraising event. The walk begins at 10 a.m.
Walkers who secure donations of $125 or more will receive a Super Walk sweat shirt, and those who raise $75 to $124 will receive a Super Walk T-shirt. The walker who raises the most money will receive a 22-inch flat screen television; second prize is a pair of running/walking shoes up to a $100 value; and third prize is a $50 gift certificate.
Every penny raised stays here to provide services to the 800 people with MS registered with MSSA. It is believed there are more in Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties with MS, Danus said.
Services and programs include the MS Clinic at St. Elizabeth Health Center, an equipment-loan program, support groups, information and referrals, educational programs and workshops, a newsletter, and health fairs and social activities.
Danus, the daughter of Bettyjane (Baker) and Joseph M. Danus, lived in Struthers as a child and graduated in 1966 from Woodrow Wilson High School in Youngstown. She attended Youngstown University to become an administrative secretary but worked 41 years in accounting at the Youngstown City Park and Recreation Department and Gateways to Better Living, retiring in 2007.
In 1968, at 20, she felt pain behind her right eye.
“I took a couple of aspirin and laid down. When I woke up a couple of hours later, the right side of my face was paralyzed ... my mouth was sideways,” she said.
Because her symptoms were limited to her face, she first was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy, a form of facial paralysis caused by a problem with the facial nerve. But about three months later, her right leg started dragging and she felt pins and needles and numbness in the leg. By a process of elimination, Danus was diagnosed with MS.
“I had heard of MS. When I found out, I thought, ‘If I get real bad, how will I support and take care of myself?’” Danus said.
She said she convinced herself that no one knows their future and that she would take it one day at a time and deal with what comes.
It has not been easy.
Danus has had several “major episodes,” what she calls “bouts,” over the years, and said the longer she has MS the “kinder” it is to her, meaning she doesn’t have bouts that incapacitate her as often.
She does however, suffer symptoms, and when interviewed had a black eye caused by a fall when her “balance was off.” Twice she has lost and regained her handwriting skills.
Danus, who remains in the relapsing-remitting stage of MS with which she was diagnosed, also feels blessed because of her employers.
During major episodes — the longest she was off work was four months in 1985 — she was able to come back to the same position at the same pay.
Danus said people with MS are supposed to pace themselves and find ways to conserve their energy, advice that she admits she has mainly ignored.
She believes she continues to be functional because she has pushed herself all her life and kept a positive attitude.
And Danus is not done yet. “I’ve got to get better. I want to visit my cousin in Australia,” she said.
For information about the MS Super Walk and the Multiple Sclerosis Services Agency, call 330-533-6772.