You might know her as Isabella Black Kiriakas on NBC’s popular daytime drama, Days of Our Lives. ‘Belle’ in some ways, is just a girl who is desperately struggling to find her way into womanhood. Her portrayer is just the opposite. Martha Madison is a woman who knows where she has been and where she’s going. More importantly, she brings an important message to people around the world. Martha is a National Ambassador for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. She has been an ambassador since the summer of 2005. Martha’s fight against Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is more than simply choosing a charity to represent. Hers is personal. When she was just six years old, her mother was diagnosed with MS. Her understanding of the disease has evolved from the eyes of a child to the deep emotions and feelings of being powerless when this debilitating disease strikes a loved one.
MS has affected more than 400,000 American families: my own included. While it’s not yet fully understood, it is believed to be an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system, or CNS. The CNS includes the brain, the spinal cord, and the optic nerves, and it's surrounded by a fatty tissue called myelin that protects the nerve fibers and helps them conduct electrical impulses. MS destroys the myelin and leaves scar tissue behind. This tissue is called sclerosis. MS can be detected through an MRI.
Each person has a story. In an effort to help people share their stories, Martha helped the Society launch the Face of MS website. ON this site, you may read the stories of others and if you feel inspired, contribute your own tales of inspiration. Each person’s story is unique. Likewise, there are many and varied symptoms indicating the presence of the disease. They are as unpredictable as the disease itself. Those afflicted might experience:
• Difficulty in walking
• Vision problems
• Emotional changes
• Problems with memory, attention, and problem-solving
• Bladder/bowel dysfunction
• Dizziness and vertigo
• Sexual dysfunction
In my own observations, those afflicted with MS are seemingly fine one moment, and paralyzed or blind the next. I know I have felt helpless. But ... they never complain ... it just is.
It does not need to be that way. We can be their voices. We can be their advocates. Martha brings a message of understanding and compassion for those affected by MS. She hopes to use her familiar face and name to raise awareness and money for the National MS Society so everyday is a day closer to a cure. Martha is teaming up with her daytime beau, Brandon Beemer (Shawn Douglas Brady), and together they will be hosting a charity 'Meet and Greet’ with other Days of Our Lives actors on June 2, 2007 for the National MS Society.
Like Martha and so many others, we must also do our part. We must join the fight in finding a cure for Multiple Sclerosis. Support an event, Join the Movement, get involved ... do something.
To read more about Martha’s involvement in the fight to cure MS, visit the National MS Society.