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Faces / a noun and a verb.

A face is the part of the head containing eyes, nose, and mouth. Face is also a verb, meaning to confront. These are the most common meanings. "Face" has so many definitions that Webster's Third International Dictionary needs 1 1/3 columns to list them all.

Over the past year, the National Board of the Society has directed our organization to concentrate on "faces"--to be more aware of the individuality of everyone who lives with the devastating effects of multiple sclerosis, and to focus on the face the National MS Society presents to American society as a whole.

We need to change the face of multiple sclerosis. That's another way to say we must fund research to find a cure. But there's more to the challenge. Since the introduction of 3 disease-modifying drugs in the 1990s, the first steps toward ultimate victory, we have put our muscle into changing attitudes about MS treatment. MS is no longer a mystery that can be managed but not controlled. We are working to change ingrained practices and attitudes that still keep an estimated 100,000 people from using these new therapies. We are facing a challenge in public policy as well, to ensure that these therapies are truly accessible to all.

We also need to change the face of disability. If MS were stopped in its tracks this morning, we would still need to end the devastating effects caused by all the barriers to a full life confronting people with disabilities. Does this mean more curb cuts? Yes! And more ramps, elevators, automatic doors, accessible taxi cabs and buses, wider aisles in public facilities, and private homes designed so everyone can visit.

Our chapters fight local battles for access every day, and we win some every day. Real change comes from these hundreds of often unsung victories. And real change comes through fostering enlightened attitudes in ourselves, our families, our neighbors, and colleagues. People with MS need opportunities, not pity.

The National MS Society Board has done well to ask us to think about "faces". It is their challenge to us to develop programs and policies sharply focused on producing measurable changes in the world--social, legal, political, and therapeutic changes. Let's face up to it together!

Mike Dugan, General, USAF (Ret.) President and CEO
COPYRIGHT 2000 National Multiple Sclerosis Society
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Copyright 2000, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Dugan, Mike
Publication:Inside MS
Date:Sep 22, 2000
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