Welcome to Living Well with MS, the Overcoming MS podcast where we explore all topics relating to living well with multiple sclerosis (MS). In this episode, we are pleased to welcome Dr Michelle O’Donoghue, OMSer (someone following the Overcoming MS Program) and co-editor of the Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis Handbook, as our guest.
Keep reading for the key episode takeaways and Michelle’s bio.
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Dr Michelle O’Donoghue is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and a practicing physician in the Cardiovascular Division at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. She is the inaugural recipient of the McGillycuddy-Logue Distinguished Chair in Cardiology.
Dr O’Donoghue earned her medical degree at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. She subsequently completed a Master’s in public health degree at the Harvard School of Public Health.
MS diagnosis and Overcoming MS
Dr O’Donoghue was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2010 and adopted the Overcoming MS Program (diet and lifestyle changes) shortly thereafter. She has lived free from clinical relapses since that time.
In 2022, Dr O’Donoghue, Professor George Jelinek and Associate Professor Sandra Neate published the Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis Handbook that they co-edited together which provides an accessible overview of the Overcoming MS Program created by Professor Jelinek, including empowering community stories.
Selected Key Takeaways
Overcoming MS offers hope and a way to change the trajectory of MS
“I think that when people first get a diagnosis [of MS], they envision that it is a course towards progressive deterioration, and progressive symptoms, and then that course can't be modified. And so, for me, it was so exciting, and it gave me so much hope, to feel like there was some ability that I might have to change that trajectory and that's a big part of why I adopted the Overcoming MS plan.”
It can take time to come to terms with an MS diagnosis and it may take time to fully embrace the Overcoming MS program
“I came across Professor Jelinek's book about Overcoming MS and the first time that I read the book, it didn't initially resonate with me as much as it did when I picked it up several months later. When I look back, I think to myself, ‘why was it that I didn't initially embrace his suggestions?’ I think that there are many reasons for that. One of which was, I was still just in an initial denial in general about my diagnosis and I was going through the different phases of grief really to cope with that, and my initial reaction was denial.”
Following the Overcoming MS Program will improve your overall health
“Professor Jelinek appropriately emphasizes that all elements of the program are equally important. I try to remind myself of that on a regular basis. At the end of the day, I think that [for] anyone who's considering the Overcoming MS program, I would encourage them to recognise that it's a win-win. Following a predominantly whole food plant-based diet, adopting stress management strategies, and making sure that you deal with any mental struggles that you may have, face those demons. I think it leads you to a better place overall.”
- Read the Overcoming MS Handbook: Roadmap to Good Health: https://overcomingms.org/overcoming-multiple-sclerosis-handbook-roadmap-good-health
- Read the Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis book: https://overcomingms.org/resources/overcoming-multiple-sclerosis-book
- Find out more about Roy Swank’s research on a low saturated fat diet for people with MS https://overcomingms.org/latest/swanks-paper-looking-effect-low-saturated-fat-diet-ms
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