This is not a post about the horrendous shootings in America. This is about a news story that appeared a few days ago, reporting that Nancy Lanza, the mother of Adam Lanza, had been diagnosed with MS – read the article here.
Two things bother me about this ‘story’. First, the headline screams out MS, but does not actually mention much about MS at all. So why the sensationalism? What does the fact that she had MS add to this article? Or rather, what is left unsaid, hanging in the air?
Second, the article states twice that she ‘suffered from MS’. The use of the word ‘suffer’ implies a victim, a helpless person. I agree MS is far from pleasant, but I don’t feel I suffer from it and neither do most of the MSers I know. We live with it and we are not victims.
My heart sank when I read the story and I felt tainted by it. Media representation of people with MS is a hit and miss affair. Recently, us MSers have been lucky. Jack Osbourne has raised a huge amount of awareness by telling the world he has MS yet even he had to fight back against media articles stating he was dying from the illness. Amy Winehouse’s mother has MS and raises funds for research. Mitt Romney’s wife Ann has also put MS on the world stage during the recent American elections.
Now though, MS has been inextricably linked to one of the worst mass shootings in an American school. The article does state that she was a ‘devoted mother’, so perhaps we are being urged to see the pathos in the family situation. A dedicated mother, battling on to help her son, despite her MS. Yet this too is patronising and I find it uncomfortable to see news stories like this in a week that will bring funeral after funeral of innocent children.
There are many villains in this story, but MS is not one of them.