Teacher Raises Awareness of Multiple System Atrophy

Nancy Green and Judi Beckerleg first met nearly 22 years ago in 1999. After Judi moved to Arizona, she began working as an aide in Nancy’s classroom, where Nancy taught special education. The two became fast friends, discussing their future plans, going into space, Nancy’s’s published books, or her relationship with her husband Keith. Then, in 2017, Nancy Green began experiencing a number of symptoms. Eventually, she was diagnosed with multiple system atrophy (MSA).

Now, shares the Arizona Daily Sun, Judi has taken on a project to help raise MSA awareness and raise funds to support research. She was driven by Nancy’s story and a question: how many others have loved ones experiencing symptoms – but they just can’t figure out a cause? As many people in the rare disease community know, finding a diagnosis can be time-consuming and difficult, especially with the lack of awareness within the medical community.

Thus, Judi’s project is designed to raise awareness and help others on their own diagnostic journeys. So far, Nancy Timper, Green’s sister-in-law, created a website to raise awareness and spread education around multiple system atrophy. Additionally, Judi is working on a benefit concert in Flagstaff, Arizona, which took place on November 21, 2021. If you are interested in learning more or donating to the cause, click here. All funds raised will go to the MSA Coalition to advance research into multiple system atrophy.

Multiple System Atrophy (MSA)

Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a rare and progressive neurodegenerative disorder that impacts the autonomic system. Doctors are not entirely sure what causes multiple system atrophy; rather, it is considered “sporadic,” occurring without any driving genetic or environmental factors. While many clinical symptoms associated with this disorder resemble those associated with Parkinson’s disease, MSA has a younger onset: usually in the 50s. MSA may be considered Parkinsonian or cerebellar, depending on symptoms. Potential symptoms include:

  • Sleep disruptions
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Postural orthostatic hypotension
  • Body stiffness
  • Increased falls
  • Lightheadedness and/or dizziness
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Emotional disturbances
  • Tremors (Parkinsonian)
  • Lack of balance (Parkinsonian)
  • Difficulty bending arms and legs, or difficulty initiating movement (Parkinsonian)
  • Visual impairment (cerebellar)
  • Difficulty swallowing or balancing (cerebellar)
  • Slurred or slowed speech (cerebellar)
Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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