These Surprising Photos Show What MS Actually Looks Like in Many People Who Have It

At least 400,000 people in the United States alone live with multiple sclerosis, a chronic illness that can make even the simplest tasks nearly impossible.

Some people with MS can go about their lives with only minor symptoms. Others’ lives revolve completely around their symptoms and treatments. Here’s how the illness looks for different people, and how they’re using their diagnoses to make a difference.

Michelle stays up-to-date on the latest MS research

Michelle is trying to lead a normal life. | ms_awareness_ via Instagram

Since receiving her MS diagnosis four months after losing her husband, Michelle has made the most of a tragic situation. Since her symptoms are relatively mild, she spends as much time as she can educating herself about living life with MS, and what its future might look like.

Next: Many people living with multiple sclerosis have to pay attention to their bodies’ distress signals.

Lindsay Mikloucich builds her life around her symptoms

Lindsay Mikloucich stays strong in the face of MS. | lindsay _mikloucich via Instagram

Having lived with MS for over 20 years, Lindsay Mikloucich has to learn to balance life as a mom even when her symptoms flare up unexpectedly. Sometimes she goes long periods of time without getting sick, and has to readjust each time her body changes her plans.

Next: Some spend a lot of time at the doctor’s office.

Crystal Gladney heads to the doctor monthly for treatment

Crystal Gladney gets monthly treatments. | crystalgladney via Instagram

Some adults with MS, including Crystal Gladney, head to their doctor’s offices every four weeks for an hour-long infusion treatment. Despite its side effects, it decreases the frequency of flare-ups and allows people with the autoimmune disease to go about their lives in somewhat improved condition.

Next: And some use social media to provide support to others like them.

Pamela Wilson knows how to handle a bad day

Pamela Wilson isn’t afraid to show what living with MS looks like. | pamela_wilson_xo via Instagram

When Pamela Wilson‘s flare-ups — she calls them “crash days” — leave her feeling miserable, she makes the most of it. She cuddles with her cat and even makes herself available to her over 1,500 Instagram followers who also live with chronic illnesses.

Next: Others use their experiences to raise awareness and funds.

Lyndsay Wright climbs stairs to raise money for MS

A scientist using a computer

MS fundraisers are an invaluable resource for scientists looking to find a cure. | Getty Images

Even though she’s lived with MS for almost 10 years, Lyndsay Wright doesn’t let it slow her down. She’s lucky to be able to participate in physically demanding fundraising events to raise money to help fight the disease, such as Climb to the Top, where she conquered 66 flights of stairs for MS research.

Next: MS inspires some people’s career paths.

Sharrie studies hard so she can make a difference

Sharrie is studying hard to cure MS. | sharrie.av via Instagram

Diagnosed with MS at the age of 19, Sharrie has spent the past five years doing all she can to make a difference in others’ lives. She has a goal of becoming an occupational therapist to help people mentally and physically overcome their illnesses and live life to the fullest.

Next: MS advocates make a real difference.

There is no cure for MS … yet

People dressed in Santa Claus costumes participate in the six kilometer charity race to raise funds for multiple sclerosis research, in Madrid on December 17, 2016. | Curto De La Torre/AFP/Getty Images

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disorder that can leave a person feeling fatigued, confused, or disoriented in mild cases. Severe cases can cause paralysis and vision loss. Even though there isn’t a cure, treatments can help relieve symptoms.

Thankfully, there are plenty of advocates out there doing their best to raise awareness and refusing to let their symptoms slow them down for long.

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