ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO/AP) — Watching Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding between the pipes, you wouldn’t know he’s battling a terrible disease.
Multiple Sclerosis isn’t that well understood, until it affects someone close to you.
“Now it’s a totally different attitude, what can I do to get better and what can I do to get out as soon as possible?” Harding said.
Harding told teammates and friends this week that he was recently diagnosed with the immune mediated disease.
Multiple sclerosis attacks the “myelin” or fatty tissue surrounding our nerve fibers. As that tissue breaks down it forms scars, disrupting nerve impulses to the brain.
Jenna Neher is with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and points out, “400,000 in the U.S. have the disease, with over 10,000 here in Minnesota.”
According to the National MS Society, women are two to three times more likely to get a diagnosis, which mostly affects adults, ages 20 to 50.
Strangely, it’s also more common in northern climates. But the good news is that 70 percent of MS patients go on to lead long, healthy, productive lives.
“There are a lot of things that are misunderstood about the disease and I think the more we bring awareness to it the better we’re going to be,” Neher said.
Harding’s battle with MS will be closely followed in the sporting world especially. An athlete who is at the top of his game, dealing with an opponent he never expected.
Minnesota Wild radio announcer, Tom Reid, says Harding’s support will be overwhelming.
“So the fact he has it and we’re able to learn from it and help him get through everything he’s going to experience in the next few weeks, months and years — hopefully his career is a long one yet,” Reid said.
Harding signed a three-year, $5.7 million contract this summer. He played in a career-high 34 games last season.
How do people battle with MS?
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