They met over a shared diagnosis. Their love shows what’s possible for people with multiple sclerosis.

“A diagnosis of MS or any other diagnosis doesn’t define us.”

They met over a shared diagnosis. Their love shows what’s possible for people with multiple sclerosis.

Jaime teaching Bruna to play the guitar.


In most ways, Jaime and Bruna are an average couple. They share a love of literature, writing and music. They enjoy spending time at the beach with their dog and 5-year-old son, Francisco. Bruna affectionately refers to Jaime as “Jota”—a nickname based on the letter J in Portuguese. They have a solid network of friends and family in their small, coastal Brazilian town.

But this husband and wife team also have something more unique in common—they both have multiple sclerosis.

Bruna and Jaime love spending time at the beach in their small Brazilian town.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disorder affecting more than 2.8 million people worldwide. With MS, the immune system attacks the central nervous system, primarily targeting myelin—a fatty substance that insulates nerves—which affects the way nerves conduct electrical impulses to and from the brain. Symptoms of MS can include blurred vision, weak limbs, tingling sensations, unsteadiness, memory problems and fatigue. It impacts more women than men and no one knows the exact cause.

Bruna was diagnosed with MS when she was only 14 years old after seeking medical attention for tingling in her arms.

“It was a little scary because my doctor didn’t say the name of the disease,” she says. “He wrote it on a piece of paper and passed it to my mom. It was very difficult, because I thought it must not be a good thing if he couldn’t speak it out loud.”

She looked up multiple sclerosis on the internet when she got home from that doctor’s appointment and came across a website with inaccurate information stating that people diagnosed with MS only have about 10 years to live.

“It was shocking,” she says. And it was wrong. Bruna is now 35 and living well with MS.

Jaime found out he had MS in 2012 at age 28, but instead of a shock, he says his diagnosis came as a relief. He’d been having trouble walking and running and experiencing weakness for a few years, so he was glad to finally have an explanation for what was happening with his body.

For both Bruna and Jaime, their diagnosis was their first contact with MS. “That was one of the reasons I started my blog,” says Bruna, “because I didn’t want anyone else to go through this situation.”

Jaime and Bruna actually met through Bruna’s blog. After he was diagnosed, Jaime began researching MS and came across posts Bruna had written about doing her doctoral studies while living with MS. Jaime was working on his master’s degree at the time and wanted to ask her questions about being in academia with a chronic disease. Soon, they were emailing every single day, sharing little details of their lives. Six months after their first email exchange, they finally met in person.

The years since have been filled with love, marriage, a child, mutual caregiving and advocacy for people with MS and other chronic diseases.

Despite the fact that we live in the information age, misconceptions about MS abound. In Brazil, the word “sclerosis” is incorrectly associated with dementia and old age. “People don’t understand how we both have ‘sclerosis’ and have a doctorate and have a child,” Bruna says. “They think that sclerosis is dementia.”

Having their son, Francisco, has prompted a lot of questions from people who don’t understand that disability doesn’t mean being completely limited in ability.

“When I was diagnosed, we believed—and science believed—that people with MS couldn’t have children, [that] it was not appropriate to have children with MS,” says Bruna. “But when we decided to have a kid, we were very passionate that we were capable of educating our child.”

“People don’t believe that we can be a mom and dad with chronic disease and disability,” she says. “But I think it’s difficult to be a mom and dad for everybody.”

Jaime with son Francisco.

Jaime says people will ask how they were able to conceive a child, assuming that his using a wheelchair meant that they were unable to have sex—one of the many erroneous assumptions about people with disabilities.

There’s a wide diversity in what MS looks like and what it means for a person’s abilities, and the spectrum is exemplified in Bruna and Jaime’s experiences.

Bruna has relapsing remitting MS (RRMS), which is the most common type of MS. (About 85% of people with MS are initially diagnosed with RRMS.) Though symptoms can come and go, for the most part, Bruna can live and function as most people without MS would.

Jaime, on the other hand, has primary progressive MS (PPMS), where individuals experience a steady worsening of symptoms from onset without periodic relapses and remissions. Jaime has progressively lost function since his diagnosis. Today he is quadriplegic and his ability to speak has been hampered. Bruna serves as Jaime’s primary caregiver, but they also get a lot of help from friends and family that live nearby.

Knowing how vital it is to have such support, Bruna and Jaime have worked hard to create a community for people with chronic disease. Bruna serves as vice president of an MS advocacy group called Amigos Múltiplos pela Esclerose—“Multiple Friends of Sclerosis”—which provides information and support for people with MS and their loved ones. She also works as general manager of Chronical Day by Day (CDD), a patient association that provides reliable, accurate information about health, access and quality of life for people with chronic diseases.

Bruna with son Francisco.

“We have to create some stories and narratives so that it’s not the end of life—it’s a different way of life,” Bruna says. “We can live in a good way, even if we have a disease like MS.”

Bruna shares that having MS herself has made her a more respectful caregiver for Jaime. She says Jaime acts as her caregiver as well—it just looks different. For instance, he’s been teaching her to play the guitar, even though he’s not able to play himself anymore. She pushes him to do the things he can still do. They both refuse to see themselves as victims.

Jaime (right) teaches Bruna (left) to play the guitar. Jaime taught guitar lessons prior to becoming quadriplegic.

Bruna says people often write to them after a diagnosis and ask if they can have a normal life, and they always say that it’s a process to learn about their new body, and everything will change, but life with MS can be good. “It can be better than it was,” she says.

The biggest thing Bruna and Jaime want people to know is that having MS doesn’t mean they can’t have a full life; it is simply a part of their life.

“A diagnosis of MS or any other diagnosis doesn’t define us,” says Bruna. “It’s part of who we became, but it’s not what we are.”

May 30 is World MS Day. To learn about how to get involved, visit https://worldmsday.org/.


This article was sponsored by Sanofi. Jaime and Bruna were compensated for their participation in the development of this article.


Relationship expert tells people to never get married unless you're willing to do 3 things

"If you and your partner (both) are unable or unwilling to do these 3 things consistently forever, you won’t make it."

Relationship expert gives people advice on getting married.

Being in a relationship can be difficult at times. Learning someone else's quirks, boundaries, and deep views on the world can be eye-opening and hard. But usually, the happy chemicals released in our brain when we love someone can cause us to overlook things in order to keep the peace.

Jayson Gaddis, a relationship expert, took to Twitter to rip off people's rose-colored glasses and tell them to forego marriage. Honestly, with the divorce rate in this country being as high as it is, he probably could've stopped his tweet right there. Don't get married, the end. Many people would've probably related and not questioned the bold statement, but thankfully he followed up with three things you must be willing to do before going to the chapel.

Before going into his reasons for why he tells people not to get married, Gaddis explained that he is a person that "LOVEs being married." I mean, it would probably make him a pretty weird relationship expert if he hated relationships, so it's probably a good thing he enjoys being married. Surely his spouse appreciates his stance as well.

Keep ReadingShow less

Tater Tots, fresh out of the oven.

It’s hard to imagine growing up in America without Tater Tots. They are one of the most popular kiddie foods, right up there with chicken nuggets, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and macaroni and cheese. The funny thing is the only reason Tater Tots exist is that their creators needed something to do with leftover food waste.

The Tater Tot is the brainchild of two Mormon brothers, F. Nephi and Golden Grigg, who started a factory on the Oregon-Idaho border that they appropriately named Ore-Ida. The brothers started the factory in 1951 after being convinced that frozen foods were the next big thing.

According to Eater, between 1945 and 1946, Americans bought 800 million pounds of frozen food.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

10 years ago, a 'Stairway to Heaven' performance brought Led Zeppelin's surviving members to tears

Heart, John Bonham's son and a full choir came together for the epic tribute.

Led Zeppelin got to see their iconic hit performed for them.

When Billboard and Rolling Stone pull together their "Best Songs of All Time" lists, there are some tunes you know for sure will be included. Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" is most definitely one of them.

It has everything—the beauty of a ballad, the grunginess of a rock song, the simple solo voice, and the band in full force. "Stairway to Heaven" takes us on a musical journey, and even people who aren't necessarily giant Led Zeppelin or classic rock fans can't help but nod or sing along to it.

Of course, it's also been so ubiquitous (or overplayed, as some would claim) to become a meme among musicians. Signs saying "No Stairway to Heaven" in guitar stores point to how sick of the song many guitarists get, and when Oregon radio station KBOO told listeners they would never play the song again if someone pledged $10,000, Led Zepelin singer Robert Plant himself called in and gave the donation.

Keep ReadingShow less

Developmental scientist shared her 'anti-parenting advice' and parents are relieved

In a viral Twitter thread, Dorsa Amir addresses the "extreme pressure put on parents in the West."

Photo by kabita Darlami on Unsplash, @DorsaAmir/Twitter

Parents, maybe give yourselves a break

For every grain of sand on all the world’s beaches, for every star in the known universe…there is a piece well intentioned, but possibly stress-inducing parenting advice.

Whether it’s the astounding amount of hidden dangers that parents might be unwittingly exposing their child to, or the myriad ways they might be missing on maximizing every moment of interaction, the internet is teeming with so much information that it can be impossible for parents to feel like they’re doing enough to protect and nurture their kids.

However, developmental scientist and mom Dorsa Amir has a bit of “anti-parenting advice” that help parents worry a little less about how they’re measuring up.

First and foremost—not everything has to be a learning opportunity. Honestly, this wisdom also applies to adults who feel the need to be consistently productive…raises hand while doing taxes and listening to a podcast on personal development
Keep ReadingShow less

A guy with road rage screaming out of his car.

A psychologist who’s an expert in narcissism has released a telling video that reveals one of the red flags of the disorder, being an erratic driver.

"Most people, when they tell the story backwards of a narcissistic relationship, are able to see the red flags very clearly,” Dr. Ramani said in her video. “However, seeing them forwards isn't hard. But if you see them too late, it means you've already been through the narcissistic relationship, you're devastated and have likely wasted a lot of time."

Dr. Ramani Durvasula is a licensed clinical psychologist in Los Angeles, Professor Emerita of Psychology at California State University and author of several books, including “Should I Stay or Should I Go: Surviving A Relationship with a Narcissist.”

Keep ReadingShow less

Man hailed 'Highway Hero' for running across four lanes of traffic

Holy cow, Bat Man! You're always supposed to be aware of other vehicles when you're driving but what do you do when you notice someone has lost consciousness while speeding down the highway?

It's a scenario that no one wants to see play out, but for Adolfo Molina, the scenario became reality and he didn't hesitate to spring into action. Molina was driving down the highway when he spotted a woman in a blue car who lost consciousness as her car careened down the shoulder of the highway. The concerned driver quickly pulled over in order to attempt to rescue the woman.

But there was a problem, he had to cross four lanes of traffic on the highway just to make it to the woman's still moving car. That obstacle didn't stop him. Molina sprinted across the highway, crossing right in front of a black pick up truck before running at full speed to attempt to open the woman's door and stop her car.

Keep ReadingShow less