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Love and Life

Love and Life
Caroline Purtell

Nancy Jones grew up on a street in suburban Cincinnati where six people at one time or another were diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disease that affects the neurological system.

 

Watching her neighbors suffer from complications prompted her to become active in the MS Society at a young age. So it was not only heartbreaking but also eerily ironic that doctors diagnosed the 1977 graduate with MS years later.

That was 1989. Today Jones gives herself an injection every other day to stave off the symptoms that limit activity—from walking and driving to seeing and speaking—and wrote a one-woman play to educate others about the disease. “It’s called ‘Above the 37th Parallel’ because the highest incidence of MS occurs above the 37th parallel, which cuts across Newport News, Va., all the way to Santa Cruz, Calif.,” she says. “There’s lots of different theories, but they don’t know what triggers it.”

Jones won a number of grants for her work that allowed her to hire a professional actress and director to stage the production at the Aronoff Center in Cincinnati for two performances in August. Proceeds went to three local non-profit groups, including the Ohio Valley Chapter of the MS Society.

“The play is really about love and life,” Jones says. “The story of MS is secondary, but it’s definitely the impetus for why I wrote the play.”

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