Genzyme’s One Day Can Make a Difference event is coming to the Valley, and so is Glendale resident Debbie Petrina. The event is 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 15 at the Arizona Biltmore, and will feature various workshops and more information about multiple sclerosis (MS). Petrina will lead one of the workshops at the event and provide strategies and personal anecdotes to help open up conversation with others about MS.

“I will be leading a workshop at the event on multiple sclerosis (MS) and communications strategies to foster healthy relationships. There will be two additional workshops offered to attendees covering how to effectively communicate their MS story, and providing tips on using assistive technology.” Petrina said, “The event begins with an overview of MS and information about an oral treatment option, and local organizations, companies and support groups will be on hand to provide information about their resources specific to helping people with MS as well.”

Petrina lived with MS for a great part of her life. She will draw from her own experience, and use her skills as a peer counselor to share tips with attendees. Petrina is not only a MS survivor, but also the author of “Managing MS: Straight Talk From a 31-year Survivor.”

Petrina said, “As a person who’s lived with MS for a large portion of their life, I know from first-hand experience how important it is that patients know how to have open conversations with others about MS.”

What Petrina hopes attendees take home with them is they will be more comfortable to talk about the disease and strengthen the relationships with close networks in their lives.

The One Day Can Make a Difference event will cover various treatment options available and individuals understand that each option is different for everyone. The free event informs people living with MS and their care partners about various treatment options available.

Petrina said, “MS is a progressive, chronic disease that impacts a person’s central nervious system and can impact a person’s physical and cognitive abilities. Having MS can also affect a patient’s relationship with others, including friends, colleagues, and loved ones.”

To understand MS, one must know the basics:

According to AUBAGIO’s website, about 400,000 people are affected by MS in the United States. The website states: “T and B cells are important because they help people fight disease. MS is an autoimmune disease where some T and B cells get the wrong message and also attack the central nervous system (CNS), which includes the brain and spinal cord. The damaged areas can form scar tissue (sclerosis), which gives the disease its name. These scars interfere with nerve impulses traveling through the CNS, which produces the variety of symptoms seen in MS.”

Petrina said, “MS is an unpredictable disease and affects each person differently. Since my diagnosis in 1984, the disease has progressed and physically has affected the way I move and carry out daily activities. However, I have remained a positive person, and look forward to each new day I have to share my story with others. Despite facing some challenges, I have learned to adapt to meet them head-on, and am appreciative of all the love and support I’ve received from friends, family and the community.”

For more information on Petrina and to view her blog, visit For more information, or to register for the event, visit