Multiple sclerosis (MS) is believed to impact nearly 1 million people in the U.S.1 People with the central nervous system disease can experience a range of symptoms, including numbness, mobility issues, and difficulty swallowing. The symptoms can be mild to severe.2 Brandee Evans’s mother, Diana Harrington, falls into the latter category.

Before her 2004 diagnosis, Harrington had been experiencing numbness and tingling. At first, Harrington was misdiagnosed with carpal tunnel, a nerve condition that can cause numbness and tingling in the fingers.3 But then the sensations spread to other parts of her body, like her legs. Harrington was also struggling with falls and memory issues. “We just thought, ‘Oh, Mom is just overwhelmed or working too hard,’” Evans told Health.

As her symptoms worsened and spread, Harrington was referred to a neurologist who eventually diagnosed her with MS.

It turns out that Harrington had a type of MS called secondary progressive MS, meaning her condition would steadily worsen.4

Today, the 69 year old requires constant care. Evans, star of the show “P-Valley,” serves as her mother’s primary caregiver. It is a role that requires Evans to be up at all hours of the night to assist her mother.

“I don’t sleep when I’m there… I have to get up every two hours—I have an alarm that’s set—to make sure she’s not wet,” Evans said. Her mother is now incontinent. She can have muscle spasms that cause her to sweat. She has lost the ability to control her saliva. “I want to make sure that she doesn’t have secretions down her clothes which can cause her to be wet.”

Over the years of caring for her mother, Evans has learned to become more comfortable relying on others for help. It’s been a journey to get to this point in her caregiving role, according to Evans, and there are a few things she’s learned along the way that she wishes she had known in the beginning—especially as a Black caregiver to someone who is Black.


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