MS Society looking for participants for research discussions in Toronto

Written by on November 3rd, 2016 – No Comments

The MS Society of Canada is looking for energetic young people in the MS community who want to play a meaningful role in research and have their voice heard about how research impacts them.

On Tuesday December 6, 2016, we will bring together people affected by MS and over 100 junior MS researchers under one room to participate in roundtable discussions and activities focused on MS research. Participants will have the opportunity to exchange perspectives and build connections, which is critical to advancing research and improving the ways in which research benefits people affected by MS.

The event is called HEAR MS Day, which stands for Hope and Engagement through Accelerating Research in MS (Presented by Biogen). It will take place on Tues Dec 6 at 10am-4pm at the Toronto Marriott Eaton Centre in downtown Toronto. Registration is required to attend.

If you are interested in registering for this unique event, please contact:

Angelica Asis
Manager, Research Information and Partnerships
MS Society of Canada
416-922-6600 ext. 3194

Seeking Youth for National Youth Forum on Accessibility

Written by on August 18th, 2016 – No Comments

Parliament-OttawaThe Government of Canada is encouraging youth to take part in a day-long National Youth Forum to discuss what accessibility means to them and how to improve accessibility across Canada.

Canada’s first Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, Carla Qualtrough, will host the event focusing on promoting accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities. (more…)

We want to hear from you! Topics for upcoming webinars

Written by on August 2nd, 2016 – No Comments

Thanks to the generous support of Biogen, the MS Society of Canada will be running a series of eight nationwide webinars beginning in the fall of 2016. We would like to hear your opinion on which topics are most important and interesting to you so that we can develop educational webinars that meet your needs.

Please share your thoughts with us by completing a short survey here:

The survey will remain open until August 12th. Thank you in advance for your contribution and we look forward to sharing more information about the webinars in the near future!

Operation Med School 2016

Written by on May 31st, 2016 – No Comments


On April 30th, I attended the Operation Med School (OMS) Conference at UBC as an Ambassador for the MS Society. The conference is a day-long event held annually for grade 12 students and undergrads who have expressed an interest in attending medical school. It gives them the opportunity to hear from and meet medical professionals to learn more. Each year, OMS chooses a charity to donate part of proceeds from the conference to. This year, they chose the Canadian MS Society.

Photo credit: Taryn Lencoe

Presenting about MS & NMO. Photo credit: Taryn Lencoe

I spent 3 days preparing a power point presentation on MS and NMO and the work the Canadian MS Society does. My friend Taryn, who works for the BC-Yukon Division, joined me at the conference for support. I spent the afternoon giving my half hour presentation four times-there were 200 students in attendance, so they were broken up into groups of 50.

I decided that it would be interesting for the students to get some hands-on experience about what it’s like to struggle with some of the symptoms of MS and NMO, so I bought along some props to help me illustrate my point. I had one volunteer from the audience come up and put a high heel shoe on their left foot and a swimming flipper on their right and then asked them to walk a straight line. The idea was to simulate what it would feel like to try and walk with a lack of balance (the high heel) and foot drop (the flipper). All of the students who volunteered were trying to hold onto the table for support and agreed that there’s no way they would be able to walk around campus for a whole day like that.

The second simulation involved a volunteer putting on a pair of oven mitts and then I asked them to either button or unbutton or zip up their jacket and then to untie and tie their shoes. It took them longer than usual and helped give them an idea what it might be like to live with neuropathy (numbness) in their hands. They got a sense of how frustrating it could be to struggle with small motor skills.

For the final simulation I passed around a pair of safety glasses that I had coated with layers of white glue to blur the field of vision. This was to demonstrate what someone with optic neuritis might experience during an attack. I asked them to try and read something, which was of course, impossible. I always think it’s interesting to let someone try these experiments so that they can better understand the kinds of things people living with MS and NMO deal with on a daily basis.

Volunteers signing up. Photo credit: Taryn Lencoe

Volunteers signing up. Photo credit: Taryn Lencoe

I was also able to share about the research the MS Society does, having just finished two terms as a Community Representative and to talk about the Interprofessional Health Mentors Program at UBC. At the end of my talk, I invited students to join us for our local MS Walks as either a participant or as a volunteer. Taryn ended up with a deluge of students wanting to volunteer at the walks, so that was fantastic! We’d brought lots of fliers, books and handouts about MS and NMO and by the end of the afternoon pretty much everything had been snapped up!

Organizers of OMS & Lelainia. Photo credit: Taryn Lencoe

Organizers of OMS & Lelainia. Photo credit: Taryn Lencoe

It was a wonderful opportunity to inspire the future of health care and we had a really great time. This was my first event as an MS/NMO Ambassador and I am looking forward to future events to engage with the community. Next week, I am headed to Port Coquitlam’s council meeting to speak briefly and receive a proclamation for MS awareness month from the Mayor. In about 3 weeks, I will be speaking to UBC medical students about collaborative care at Vancouver General Hospital. I can’t wait!

Living in the Winnipeg Area? Join us!

Written by on April 27th, 2016 – 1 Comment

poster final

Personal Story

Written by on April 22nd, 2016 – 1 Comment


Pascale Lavallée 1I remember that day five years ago. My dad was with me. We were sitting in the waiting room at the neurologist’s office. The secretary didn’t look very friendly – you know, the kind of person who always looks as though you’re bothering her. There were hundreds of files in the cabinets behind her. All those sick people who needed a file here to get better. I remember feeling uncomfortable to be sitting there in that chair. I felt as if I was taking the place that belonged to someone who really needed to see the doctor. There was nothing wrong with me – no more symptoms at all. It was just fatigue, or maybe the side effects of my birth control pills. So when the neurologist invited me to come into his office, I went in alone. But he suggested that I go get my father from the waiting room.

Then the diagnosis: multiple sclerosis. To me, it sounded like a skin disease. Maybe that explained my problems with eczema. When I turned to my father, I could see that something was wrong, but I knew absolutely nothing about neurology and I had no clue. My father grabbed my hand and gave me a hug – a strong hug, full of love and pain. When the neurologist started to explain the disease to me, I tried to figure out what was so serious about it. I understood that people with the disease often end up in a wheelchair after a few years. OK, fine, I can live with that, but then what? Am I going to die? Am I going to become a vegetable? Am I going to be unable to remember the people I love? No, no and no. So I was still trying to work out what was so bad. The only thing I had in mind was a planned trip to Asia; I told myself that, as long as I could travel, everything would be fine.


Fresh Ink!

Written by on March 3rd, 2016 – No Comments

tattooSo…this happened yesterday afternoon! It was my Xmas gift from my son. I have been thinking about a third tattoo for some time now and yesterday I finally did it.

The design is a stylised ampersand. (The “&” symbol.) I love the symbol being the font/typography enthusiast that I am, but didn’t want to have the same tattoo that a zillion other people are walking around with. I came across this particular design and fell in love. I did some digging and managed to track down the artist, Beth Sicheneder. I sent her an email to see if she would give me permission to use her design.  She very generously gave me her blessing. It’s important to seek permission to use another artist’s work-It’s the right thing to do and personally, I believe in karma. I want to keep mine good!

I knew that I did not want this done in black ink with thick heavy lines. I wanted it to be subtler and more feminine. Ashley, the tattoo artist I’d chosen to do this piece understood exactly what I meant and suggested we use a tiny needle and dark grey ink.


Trip to Toronto!

Written by on February 2nd, 2016 – No Comments
Me in front of the Toronto sign from the 2016 PanAm & ParaPanAm Games.

Me in front of the Toronto sign from the 2016 PanAm & ParaPanAm Games.

On January 18th, I flew off to Toronto to serve my 2nd term as a Community Representative for the Canadian MS Society. This year, I was assigned to the Clinical and Population Health (CPH) Committee, which deals with research related to mental health/quality of life research in relation to MS patients. It was really encouraging to know that researchers and clinicians are invested in finding ways of treating the whole patient and helping to address the unique mental and emotional challenges MS patients face living with this life-altering disease. (more…)


Written by on January 26th, 2016 – 1 Comment

*The following post is one I wrote this past May when I decided to go public (thru the help of social media) about my (then) pending diagnosis of MS.

     knowledge or perception of a situation or fact

SAndreao, here it goes…This Wednesday, May 27th is World MS Day. As a woman living with the reality of this disease, MS awareness is now something I realize I need to help be a part of. My diagnosis began nearly 2 years ago, and it has been the most terrifying, uplifting, isolating, exciting ride of my life. Each day I grow stronger, making the days when I do falter have less of a lasting impact. I am constantly learning everything I need to know about MS, and THAT is my power.

I have many people to thank for this opportunity who have encouraged me to share my story. One in particular, who is helping me express my journey through photos.  If you, your family member, your spouse, your friend is undergoing a life-changing disease, talk about it. Educate yourself. Because no one should be left to fight on their own.

Announcing the new John Helou Scholarship for youth affected by MS!

Written by on January 21st, 2016 – No Comments

CapturePfizer, Rx&D and the MS Society of Canada are proud to offer a new transformational scholarship program for youth affected by multiple sclerosis. This innovative program is available solely due to the generous financial support of Pfizer and Rx&D

The John Helou Scholarship will award up to two exceptional Canadian youth with the financial support they need to overcome the financial obstacles that come with a personal or familial diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, enabling them to reach their full potential and become the next generation of MS leaders. (more…)