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Episode 86: Cannabis & MS with Aryn Sieber

We're at a point in time when there's a tremendous amount of interest as well as confusion surrounding cannabis-based treatments for MS. My guest is Aryn Sieber, the CEO and Founder of the CannaCauses Foundation and Cannaisseur Brands. Aryn is a strong advocate of using cannabis-derived treatments to help relieve symptoms of disease processes, particularly MS. And he's partnered with MS centers and neurologists to better understand how cannabis-based treatments can help people manage...


Episode 85: Meat Fight with MS Warrior Alice Laussade

In less than a decade, Meat Fight has actually grown from a backyard barbecue to a non-profit organization that hosts several different fundraising events, offers some unique programs for people affected by MS, and has raised more than $1 million dollars for the National MS Society. My guest today is Alice Laussade, the creator of Meat Fight, and the very definition of a real MS Warrior. We're also talking about a new research initiative to investigate cannabis and MS. We'll tell you...


Episode 84: A New Way of Measuring Mobility & Evaluating Disability with Dr. Valerie Block

If someone is being treated for MS, their neurologist is using the Expanded Disability Status Score, or EDSS, to indicate their level of disability. What if there were a better, easier, and more accurate way to measure mobility and evaluate disability? My guest today is Dr. Valerie Block, a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Neurology at University of California San Francisco. As a physical therapist, Dr. Block is focused on MS rehabilitation. And we're talking about a...


Episode 83: Progressive MS Day with MS Warrior Kevin Reid

March 28th is Progressive MS Day. While only about 15% of the people diagnosed with MS are initially given a diagnosis of Primary Progressive MS, about 65% of the people who are diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS will eventually develop Secondary Progressive MS. And the difference between progressive MS and relapsing-remitting MS is that, usually, people diagnosed with Progressive MS don't experience any remission in their disease progression. Their MS just seems to worsen more steadily...


Episode 82: Minority Participation in MS Clinical Research with Dr. Mitzi Joi Williams

MS is an equal opportunity neurological disease. It doesn't seem to discriminate against any particular ethnic or racial group. It affects Latinos and African-Americans, as well as Caucasians. And if you're an MS research scientist, who's hoping to create a viable treatment that's going to be safe & effective for the diverse population living with multiple sclerosis, then having that diversity represented in your clinical research seems like it would be important. Unfortunately, it doesn't...


Episode 81: Almost One Million! The Prevalence of MS with National MS Society CEO Cyndi Zagieboylo, Dr. Bruce Bebo, & Dr. Ruth Ann Marrie

It's MS Awareness Week! And the single event that is likely going to have the most impact in raising awareness of MS in the United States is the recent announcement of the MS Prevalence Study results. The results of this study corrected the decades old notion that there were only about 400,000 people living with MS in the United States. We now know that the number of people living with MS in the U.S. is closer to one million. More than twice as many as had been previously estimated. In...


Episode 80: Access to Affordable MS Medications with MS Activist Diane Whitcraft

My guest this week is Diane Whitcraft, a retired middle school teacher who had been taking the same MS prescription medication for more than 20 years. But once Diane retired and her health insurance changed, that same medication became unaffordable. Diane traveled to Washington D.C. last month, as Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin's guest at the President's State of the Union address. She is back in our nation's capitol this week, speaking at the National MS Society's Public Policy...


Episode 79: Caregiver Assurance -- A Better Way of Connecting Caregivers to the Support They Need

No matter what sort of challenge a caregiver may be facing -- financial, emotional, or just trying to find the right resources at the right time, every caregiver challenge is made more difficult by that accompanying feeling of isolation that so many caregivers experience. My guest is Heidi Telschow, manager of Fairview Health Services' Caregiver Assurance program, a unique program designed to seamlessly connect caregivers to the resources they need. We're also talking about the...


Episode 78: The Importance of MS Advocacy with Bari Talente

Over the past year, we've seen our access to affordable, quality healthcare come under unprecedented attack. We've seen a federal judge declare the Affordable Care Act to be unconstitutional. And we continue to see our access to affordable prescription medications -- the medications that have been shown to delay the progression of MS and extend the quality of life for everyone living with MS -- that access remains threatened by the constant skyrocketing cost of those medications. That's why...


Episode 77: with Founder George Pepper & Aoife Kirwan

George Pepper was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2009, at the age of 22. He initially found it difficult to connect with others his own age who were living with MS, so George set up a website where people living with MS could meet and share their experiences. That website evolved into an online community called, and today, more than 18,000 people participate in the community. My guests today are the founder of, George Pepper, and Aoife Kirwan, a member of the...


Episode 76: MS Rehabilitation With Dr. Deborah Backus

One of the best ways to maintain physical function, manage the effect of some MS symptoms, and even offset depression is exercise. My guest is Dr. Deborah Backus, the director of Multiple Sclerosis Research at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. We're discussing the importance of early rehabilitation, the difference that exercise can make for people living with MS, and STEP FOR MS -- an important clinical trial that may turn out to be a game-changer for MS rehabilitation. We're also...


Episode 75: MS Risk Factors with Epidemiologist Dr. Farren Briggs

One of the fundamental questions on the minds of just about everyone living with MS is How did I get it? What causes MS? It's a question that's still awaiting a definitive answer. But as we wait for that answer, science is uncovering more and more information about MS risk factors -- the things that can make living with MS better or worse. My guest is Dr. Farren Briggs, an epidemiologist who's focused on the etiology, or the cause of multiple sclerosis, and the risk factors that actually...


Episode 74: How Your Neurologist's Treatment "Style" Affects Your MS Treatment Plan with Dr. Aaron Boster

We know about the importance of disease-modifying therapy (DMT) in managing MS and slowing its progression. But you may not know that there are two very different schools of thought when it comes to how and why your neurologist may recommend one DMT over another. My guest is Dr. Aaron Boster, the System Medical Chief for Neuroimmunology at OhioHealth, and we're talking about an important conversation that you should be having with your neurologist. We're also talking about the newly...


Episode 73: Making Connections with MSPals Mary Pettigrew

Recent research suggests that loneliness is one more invisible symptom of MS. But social outreach and interaction have never been more accessible. My guest is Mary Pettigrew, an MS Warrior and social media phenom. In 2014, Mary launched MSPals, a Twitter group that has evolved into a community of more than 5,000 followers. We're talking with Mary about the benefits of connecting online and the importance of finding your creative outlet. We're also talking about new research on the...


Episode 72: MS Cognitive Rehabilitation with Dr. Nancy Chiaravalloti

Some people living with MS may find that their attention span is shorter than it used to be, or that it takes them longer to process information. Learning directions can be hard, and decision-making may become more difficult. These are all examples of impaired cognition, or cognitive dysfunction. Cognitive dysfunction can impact people living with relapsing-remitting MS, and it impacts almost everyone living with progressive MS. My guest is Dr. Nancy Chiaravalloti, the Director of...


Episode 71: Our Look Back at 2018

It's our final episode of the year, and we're taking a look back at what you decided were the most important RealTalk MS podcast episodes of the past year. These are the episodes that received the highest number of listener downloads. We're also polishing our crystal ball, taking a look ahead to 2019, and talking about some of the research that we can expect to be hearing about. We'll even share some of the specific topics that we'll be discussing on the podcast in the coming...


Episode 70: When A Couple Is Living With MS with Dan & Jennifer Digmann

The holiday season seems to carry with it the message of hope, and of finding the best side of who we are. So one of the gifts that I'm going to unwrap with you is a replay of a conversation that I had earlier this year, with 2 people who epitomize hope, humanity, and love. To me, that's what the holiday is all about, and that's what Dan and Jennifer Digmann are all about. Jennifer was diagnosed with Progressive MS in 1997, and Dan was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS in 2000. Dan &...


Episode 69: MS & Travel with Tarita Davenock, CEO of Travel For All

The logistics involved in traveling can be cumbersome, and that's twice as true if you're living with MS. Mobility issues and other special requirements can make travel challenging. But whether you're out exploring the world or just checking into a local hotel for a pampered staycation, travel can add so much to your quality of life. My guest on the podcast is Tarita Davenock. It's been 20 years since Tarita's MS diagnosis. And today, Tarita is the CEO of Travel For All, a travel agency that...


Episode 68: MS & AI with Dr. Chase Spurlock, CEO of iQuity

Artificial intelligence is about to change the entire healthcare landscape. And that might very well include how MS is diagnosed, treated, and managed. It's even beginning to impact the way some MS research is being conducted. My guest is the founder and CEO of iQuity, Dr. Chase Spurlock. iQuity is using its expertise in machine learning to improve patient care, drive the creation of new therapies, and reduce the costs associated with managing chronic illness, including multiple...


Episode 67: MS Research with Dr. Larry Sherman

Research is the engine that drives us toward better understanding MS, better treating MS, and one day, curing MS. My guest on the podcast is Dr. Larry Sherman, who plays a vital role on the front lines of MS research. We're talking with Dr. Sherman about some of his most significant research and his unique research lab. We're also talking about two important victories for MS Activists. We'll tell you about the EMA approval of Gilenya for treating pediatric MS, the FDA approval of a...