A few years ago I worked for The International Organization of Multiple Sclerosis Nurses. It was my great pleasure to work with many dedicated and compassionate nurses who worked tirelessly for people diagnosed with MS. One of these nurses was Patricia Kennedy, a nurse practitioner, educator and programs consultant at Can Do Multiple Sclerosis (formerly The Heuga Center for Multiple Sclerosis in Edwards, Colorado.)
Pat is a true renaissance nurse as far as working for people with MS. Her talents stretch from working at a comprehensive MS Center for 25 years while working at Can Do, becoming a newly elected President for IOMSN, and now an editor of a new book entitled, “The Can Do Multiple Sclerosis Guide to Lifestyle Empowerment.”
As I read about the new publication of the book I thought it would be interesting to interview Pat for all of us. Hang on to your hats (if you have any on!) while you read about Pat, her work, and the exciting programs she offers through Can Do! Perhaps you or someone you know would be interested in taking part in them.
(SPOILER ALERT: Pat sounded so proud and excited in her emails about each of the programs at Can Do that she requested we speak on the phone about them. Despite Hurricane Sandy interrupting our plans we finally connected, and I am thankful we did. Hearing her voice as she described these programs got me excited about how they have helped countless of patients and their support partners over the years. We sincerely thank you, Pat, for all you do for us!)
Pat, can you tell me a little bit about your background?
PAT: I am a nurse practitioner and worked for 25 years at a comprehensive MS Center. I also, during that time, worked as a consultant for Can Do Multiple Sclerosis. I joined the full time staff there about 4 years ago as a nurse educator and programs consultant. I am involved with developing programs for people with MS and their support partners. We just published a book for which I was the editor. I speak for many of our programs and speak for many other programs (Continuing Medical Education) around the country and abroad for both people with MS as well as professionals.
What is the mission of Can Do?
Our mission is to educate people to feel empowered to live their lives more fully with MS. To be ‘more than their MS.’ To change their lifestyle to promote better overall health which will make the journey with MS less challenging.
In the Foreword of your new book it says that the book ‘aims to provide a foundation for helping the person with MS to be in charge of their health care.’ Can you expand on this a bit by telling us how you believe we need to take charge of our MS?
People with MS should not feel victimized. There are choices they can make concerning how they care for themselves, care for their MS and promoting a better quality of life. Initially, most people feel they have lost control. In some aspects they have. But there are many aspects that people can regain control of which includes caring for themselves and improving their lifestyles.