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Woman Living With MS for 36 Years Shares Secret to a Happy, Active Life

May 13, 2019

Woman Living With MS for 36 Years Shares Secret to a Happy, Active Life

With the help of her doctors, Celina Reyes-Levine (shown in pink) refuses to let this often debilitating chronic disease slow her down.

When Celina Reyes-Levine’s son, Alexander, was just four months old, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a disabling disease of the central nervous systems that disrupts information in the brain, and between the brain and the body.

It could not have happened at a worse time. MS stops you from moving, and that’s the last thing she needed while trying to manage an active toddler. She was also still in college, trying to complete her social work degree.

“There are many pieces to the puzzle of MS, and self-care involves caring for each piece,” said Reyes-Levine at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Women on the Move Luncheon on May 8 at Tappan Hill Mansion in Tarrytown, where White Plains Hospital President and CEO Susan Fox was the event’s Honoree.

Reyes-Levine said that maintaining a positive attitude is key, along with faith in God, eating right, getting lots of physical activity and the support of her family, friends and doctor. “You too can have a happy, fulfulling life in the face of MS and other chronic diseases if you take care of every piece so you can feel whole.”

White Plains Hospital has the only comprehensive MS Center in Westchester County, located in the Armonk outpatient center. Reyes-Levine is a patient there, under the care of Dr. Ute Traugott.

She is one of the nearly 1 million people in the US -- an estimated 2,000 of those in Westchester County -- who are living with MS. Most of them women who are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50.

While MS is a debilitating disease, and an incurable one, the good news is that in the last 25 years there have been major advances in treatment, Fox explained. And, just two years ago this month, the first treatment for “primary progressive MS” became available. This is a life-changing breakthrough for people with that form of the illness, she said.

Since her initial diagnosis 36 years ago, Reyes-Levine has cultivated a successful and meaningful career in psychotherapy. Her doctors describe her as resilient and determined to live her best life. And she’s shown that it is indeed possible, having nurtured a rewarding personal life as a mother, wife, daughter, church parishioner and talented cook. She’s also an outstanding salsa dancer, proving that with the right doctors and treatment, people with MS can continue to move joyfully through life without obstacles.

To find out more about our Multiple Sclerosis Services or to make an appointment at the MS Center, call (914) 681-1126.