I Will Win This

Seven years ago, at age 26, Jasmin Watson-El’s world turned upside down.

She was lying in a hospital in her hometown of Baltimore, Maryland, unable to feel her arms or her legs, and she had just been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS).

“I lost all control of my body. It felt like my brain just shut down,” she says of the days and hours leading up to her hospitalization.
MS is a progressive autoimmune disease that damages the protective myelin sheath surrounding nerves in the brain and spinal cord, interrupting the signals sent from those organs to other parts of the body. It causes symptoms that can range from fatigue and numbness in the extremities, like Jasmin experienced, to tremors and breathing problems.
The disease affects about 1 million people in the U.S., and they are waiting for more breakthroughs in treatment options.
With physical therapy, medication and determination, Jasmin resumed most of her activities and returned to work as a project manager in the public sector. She has good days and bad days and an occasional relapse.

“My brain no longer works the same as it did before,” she says. “It takes longer for words to come to me or to digest information, but I am determined to get back to me and
I have strategies to overcome those obstacles.”

“I am determined to get back to me,” says Jasmin (pictured with her son, Keagan, who was born after her diagnosis).

About a year after her diagnosis, Jasmin learned she was pregnant with her son, Keagan, and credits her “village” of supportive family members, friends and health care professionals with helping her navigate life as a new mother with MS.

She also joined the MS Mindshift, an educational initiative for people living with MS, sponsored by Bristol Myers Squibb (formerly Celgene). She is an MS Ambassador and speaks to groups about living with the daily uncertainties that MS brings. “I hope I’m showing people that even with
MS, they can get up and live. I look at me, and I look at MS and I think, ‘MS will not win. I will win this.’” More information can be found at www.MSMindShift.com.

As Jasmin and other patients continue to wait for more treatment options, she says, “It gives me hope that companies like Bristol Myers Squibb are working and getting closer to new treatments. You cannot stop because MS will not stop.”

Bristol Myers Squibb’s ozanimod is currently in Phase 3 clinical trials for relapsing multiple sclerosis.