pwMS: Syracuse/Utica by Janice Toczydlowski Chussil

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Utica's Janice Toczydlowski Chussil honors Utica's Annette

As a little girl, Janice Toczydlowski would rush from Holy Trinity grammar school on Lincoln Avenue in West Utica to her home a few blocks away on Warren Street  just in time for Roll Call on the Micky Mouse Club.  Watching from the black and white TV in her living room, Janice would sing along with the Mouseketeers... including Utica’s own Annette Funicello.

The Funicello family moved from Utica to Los Angeles when Annette was just 4 but from the time when she became a Mouseketeer until today, the people of Utica have proudly claimed Annette as their hometown STAR! 

After graduating from Saint Francis deSales High School, Janice also left Utica to attend Saint Joseph's Nursing School in nearby Syracuse, New York. She then embarked on a long career in nursing that led her to Beaverton, Oregon. 

Along the way, like Annette, Janice, too, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. 

Why I support CASA-MS progressive MS research

April 16, 2022

Dear friends and family, people in and from Utica, and everywhere else,

Please join me in contributing to CASA-MS. You'll be supporting important research and your gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar by Annette's Fund.

Living with MS is a unique experience and a challenge. My challenge started when I was diagnosed with RRMS (relapsing remitting MS) 31 years ago. I had intermittent right leg weakness, bladder issues, fatigue and tingling sensation in my arms and legs when I flexed my neck. At the time there were no medications available to treat MS so I just followed a healthy lifestyle, and continued the activities I enjoyed which included biking, jogging, golfing, cross country skiing and dancing. I had only had a few minor MS flares. 

Since medications for RMSS became available in the 1990s I have taken 3 different medications but gradually, my MS progressed to Secondary Progressive MS (SPMS). My increased disabilities forced me to retire early from work I loved as a Dermatology Nurse Practitioner. I've also had to give up most of the activities I enjoy because of balance issues and fatigue. I now must use a walking stick. I take a medication to slow progression but there are none available to significantly make an impact on this stage of the disease or reverse my disabilities.  

I learned about the CASA-MS study from a friend and believe this comprehensive research will lead to significant contributions to the understanding the nature of MS progression, including Secondary and Primary Progressive MS. 

As a childhood fan of Annette's, I was inspired to respond to the Funicello Challenge and am proud to be one of the first 10 members of Annette's 100.  

In the 1950's, I admired her talent as a Mousketeer. In the 1970's I admired her courage when she revealed she had MS. By the 1990's when I knew I, too, had MS, I recognized the physical and emotional drain it must have taken as her symptoms were increasing to speak out about MS and raise funds. A few years later, I was encouraged to learn Annette and her husband had created their own fund to support targeted MS research. I was profoundly touched to learn of the round-the-clock care her husband made sure she had during her final years. Today, I am grateful that the Annette Funicello Research Fund for Neurological Diseases will DOUBLE my gift and yours. Please GIVE NOW!

Thank you,

Janice Toczydlowski Chussil

Beaverton, Oregon


Each of ANNETTE’S 100 has set a goal to give or raise $1,000 or more to CASA-MS progressive MS research. Your gift will help them reach their goal and will be matched by Annette’s Fund. LET US KNOW IF YOU’D LIKE TO BE ONE OF ANNETTE’S 100, TOO!

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