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JUST ASKING

Buffalo-native Margot Russell, 38, has just finished a new book, "When the Road Turns: Inspirational Stories About People With MS" (Health Communications). It's a collection of 17 stories written by people who are living with multiple sclerosis.

Russell was diagnosed with MS while working as a radio news broadcaster in 1998. Her neurologist told her she needed to change her line of work because it would be too stressful to continue the 50- and 60-hour weeks while raising three children on her own.

Now she works out of her home in Cape Cod, Mass., writing and working part-time as a National Public Radio correspondent. Her book will be published in August.

We recently spoke to Russell from her home:

What led you to write your book?

There are some good books out there about MS, but given that 2.5 million people in the world have MS, and 200 per week are being diagnosed in the United States alone, there is definitely room for improvement, at least in books that address the MS soul.

Any reason this isn't "Chicken Soup for the MS Soul"?

That's another author, two actually. I never approached them to do an MS book because the "Chicken Soup" books are just short vignettes. I wanted "When the Road Turns" to be lengthy stories where you really come to understand the writers and how they dealt with their diagnosis.

What kind of stories are included?

At first I thought it was important to seek out well-known people with the disease, not only for their name recognition but because the well-known people seem to have triumphed, and continue to live a full life despite their illness. But I realized that if the book was going to be successful and help others it had to be approachable. The stories (I chose) reflect the themes that play out in the lives of all people with MS, or any chronic illness, really. They're humorous, touching and compelling.

What do you want to accomplish with "When the Road Turns"?

I'm hoping to inspire others with MS. The diagnosis is not the end of life, but really just the beginning. I don't think life should be defined by the adversity in our life, I think life should be defined by what we do with that adversity. These people show through their stories how they have gone on to live their lives.

Is the book a way to learn how to live with MS?

Yes, it definitely is. The book should not be taken as advice, though. It's more like a portable support group.

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