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Marjorie Catania - Music keeps her going

Music doesn't just provide entertainment for Marjorie Catania - it's become her lifeline. During her 40-year battle with MS, Marjorie credits music with "keeping me alive." Through her many ups and downs, she never gave up her cornet, playing in two marching bands from the seat of a wheelchair.

"When I'm using my sight, hearing and mind, or totally controlling my body to make music it is so intense it is like praying," Marjorie said. "It's a direct line to heaven - great mental and physical exercise. It is a blessing I receive when I share it with my family and friends. Even greater is when I am able to help my MS friends."

But Marjorie is quick to point out that without the treatment from Dr. Mary Ann Picone, Medical Director of the MS Center at Holy Name Medical Center, she might not be able to play. Dr. Picone and the MS Center help Marjorie manage her disease, keeping her on an even keel and able to live a life filled with family, friends and hobbies. She typically walks but uses a wheelchair for long jaunts, such as parades.

"I have the best specialist in the state with Dr. Picone, and at Holy Name, everything I need is right there," Marjorie said. "I have tests done and my medications adjusted to stop new symptoms that might develop. Dr. Picone really listens to me and hears what I'm telling her. Her treatment has slowed down the progression of my disease."

Marjorie was 25 years old when she was diagnosed. She had been a competitive skater but developed double-vision, which caused her to keep banging into her partner's skates. She quit skating but soon found normal chores such as carrying a laundry basket upstairs too difficult. Her diagnosis left her "scared to death," after seeing a relative by marriage live with the disease.

"I know that MS is a progressive disease," Marjorie said. "But I found Dr. Picone and Holy Name's MS Center in 1997 or 1998 and have been able to do things I didn't think possible back then. I've taught music lessons and played the euphonium in Disney World and Rockefeller Plaza. I've been playing cornet/trumpet in bands all my life and am so happy I can continue playing."

Today, Marjorie lives with her husband in West Milford and continues to play in the Bloomfield Civic Band and the Bloomingdale Cornet Band while undergoing ongoing treatment at Holy Name's MS Center.