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Fighting back against MS
Local support group to form
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Dawson County resident Carol Ann Groebner has been searching for a way to provide support to people in the county who suffer from multiple sclerosis, a medical condition in which the immune system attacks the central nervous system.


According to Groebner, attending support group meetings on Saturdays in Cumming is the closest available group in which residents living in Dawson County or other north Georgia counties can attend.


“We need more groups further north,” said Groebner. “The majority of MS support groups are in Atlanta and south of Atlanta.”


Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1982, Groebner says people who have this disease deal with emotional aspects of having a major medical condition, which goes beyond dealing with physical limitations.


“Often, when a person has been diagnosed with a serious disease, such as multiple sclerosis, they can feel like they’re all alone,” Groebner said.


“No one, except the individual with the same disease, can really understand what they go through or what they experience. Caregivers, spouses, significant others, etc., may empathize with the individual, but you still feel alone.”


Beginning April 14, those who have the disease, or have a loved one that suffers from it, will no longer have to feel alone.


Sponsored by the Georgia Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, and through the efforts of Groebner, there will be a Dawson County self-help group for persons with multiple sclerosis and their caregivers, partners or spouses.


“Self-help groups bring people together who share a common life experience for support, education and mutual aid,” Groebner said.


The group will meet the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. in the community building behind Appalachian Community Bank.


“Members of self-help groups share a belief that positive personal change happens through the individual efforts with the support of others. This will be a safe place for those with MS to vent and express their feelings with people dealing with the same problems and have a full understanding of what they are going through,” Groebner said. 


Groebner noted that there are over 1,800 National Multiple Sclerosis Society-affiliated groups in the country.


“The (Multiple Sclerosis) society recognizes the valuable role self-help groups play in addressing the information, emotional and social support needs of our members,” she said.


Groebner explained that multiple sclerosis is a chronic condition in which progress, severity and specific symptoms are unpredictable and vary from one person to another.


“The body’s own defense system attacks myelin, the fatty substance that surrounds and protects the nerve fibers in the central nervous system,” Groebner said.


“When any part of the myelin sheath or nerve fiber is damaged or destroyed, nerve impulses traveling to and from the brain and spinal cord are distorted or interrupted, producing the variety of symptoms that can occur.”


Open to anyone with multiple sclerosis and caregivers of people with the condition, Groebner assures that no one will be turned away.


“This group is not exclusive to MS, although it will be the main focus. If someone has another neurological problem similar to MS, they are welcome to come as well,” she said.


Benefits of participating in a self-help group include: Learning new information and strategies for confronting problems, finding support from others, the opportunity to help others and feeling empowered and more self-confident in coping with challenges.


For further information, contact Carol Ann Groebner at (706) 216-3660, or your local chapter at (404) 256-9700 or (800) FIGHTMS.