Woman shares what it's like living with multiple sclerosis after life-changing diagnosis

Bianca Holman Image
Friday, March 29, 2024
Woman helps to bring awareness to Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune condition that impacts nearly one million people living in the United States, according to the National MS Society.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune condition that impacts nearly one million people living in the United States according to the National MS Society.

It's a disease that is life-changing and can strike at any time. Five years ago, Amber Cunningham's life changed forever when she said she woke up one morning and couldn't see out of her right eye.

With the encouragement of her sisters, Cunningham went to the doctor, and after several tests and MRIs -lesions on her brain and spine confirmed a multiple sclerosis diagnosis.

The disease affects the central nervous system, making it difficult for the brain to send signals to the rest of the body. Symptoms are different from person to person and are as unique as a snowflake.

"On my good days, I'll be able to go to the gym two times a day, but then I'll have the extreme where you know, I'm not able to go at all for days. But I get that often that I don't look sick. And that makes you want to ask people what a sick person looks like," said Cunningham.

With monthly infusions, Cunningham says her family is a major lifeline. She is able to live a full life as a mother, and customer service professional, and enjoys hobbies like gardening and reading. She has also found support in advocacy.

"I found the National MS Society, which I volunteer in. I'm an ambassador for now. And then I also found a patient advocacy organization called 'We Are Ill,' which is amazing," said Cunningham.

Founded by Victoria Reese in 2020 "We Are Ill" started as a digital awareness campaign. It's now a nonprofit with a mission to redefine what sick looks like for Black women living with multiple sclerosis.

"You are strong and powerful. You can still lead a normal life and do all the things you love to do," said Cunningham.

She also wants people to know an MS diagnosis is not a death sentence and there is help available.

"I definitely hope for a cure. I hope to one day be able to say 'I had MS,' Or even if it's not in my time that other people who end up getting diagnosed with this can say that I had MS or that I was able to take something or do something to cure this disease," said Cunningham.