More than 400,000 Americans are affected by multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic and disabling disease that affects the central nervous system. MS patients not only have to cope with their disease but also must fight the many myths they hear surrounding the disease.

Robin Maxwell, mother of two and a triathlete at the time of her MS diagnosis in 2007, did not allow these myths to stop her from moving forward with her life and helping others.

“Though I have MS, I maintain an active lifestyle and still participate in competitive athletics,” Maxwell said.

“Early treatment is a key factor to an active lifestyle. Shortly after being diagnosed, I began treatment on Copaxone (glatiramer acetate), a daily injectable treatment, but due to injection site reactions, I switched to once-a-week AVONEX (Interferon beta- 1a), which makes it easier to stay on therapy. I find that this therapy disrupts my disease, not my lifestyle.”

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Below is a sample of myths, followed by facts about the disease.

Myth No. 1:
Being diagnosed with MS means you will no longer lead a normal life.

Fact: Many people with MS go on to live long and normal lives, and continue to pursue their personal, work and family goals with the help of effective and early therapy.

Myth No. 2:
All people with MS end up in a wheelchair.

Fact: According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS), most people with MS will remain mobile, although some may need assistance as the disease progresses.

Myth No. 3: MS drugs make a person sicker than the disease.

Fact: Common side effects associated with a treatment such as flu-like symptoms often diminish over time. The benefits of starting treatment early can outweigh side effects of the drug.

Myth No. 4: Nothing can slow the progression of MS.

Fact: While there is no cure, there are several FDA-approved treatments that have been proven to modify or slow the progression of physical disability.

Myth No. 5: People with MS have to reduce physical activity.

Fact: Many people with MS do not need to lower their level of activity. Moderation is the key and people with MS must learn to listen to their bodies.