“It’s my birthday today — 73.” Marilyn Wilson exclaims as she prepares to talk about multiple sclerosis (MS), a condition she’s lived with for almost 40 years and has been aware of since 1999. Wilson is the mother of “Criminal Minds” star Shemar Moore, who has since become a huge advocate for MS awareness.

“I grew up with just my mom,” he says. “I always say she’s my partner in crime. She put me in the best schools she could; got me clothes; came to my games. Growing up, she always played that song, ‘You and Me Against the World.’ As long as we were together, we’d be all right.”

The diagnosis

When MS came along, it didn’t make any sense to Shemar. He and his mother both claim to have spent the time after diagnosis in a kind of denial. “It took a few years for it to be real,” he says. “Seeing her not being able to do things like she always could. We didn’t know then what interferons were — how MS is different for different people. It’s been a slow learning process.”

“[At first,] I didn’t change anything about my daily routine,” Marilyn recalls. “Then I decided I had to pay attention to it. I learned a lot. I began volunteering at the MS Society.” Marilyn and Shemar were both recently honored by the Southern California and Nevada chapters of the National MS Society at the organization’s Dinner of Champions.

ON RELATIONS: As Marilyn discovered, an MS diagnosis is complicated, and is always the cause for other conditions, like her shattered hip, which required different treatment.

Lessons learned

What Marilyn discovered on her journey is that more research is needed because MS becomes increasingly complex as doctors attempt to solve it. Several years ago, Marilyn was essentially bedbound. Shemar wondered if he would have to start looking into in-home nursing care for his mother, and if this would continue for the rest of her life. This condition was naturally attributed to Marilyn’s MS. However, after almost a year in a wheelchair it was discovered that it wasn’t — her hips were shattered. Marilyn replaced both hips — “one’s metal, the other’s ceramic.” — and now, at 73, she feels younger than she did in her sixties.

“If you have MS, you’re taking steroids and you’re in pain,” Marilyn says, “check with your doctor to make sure the pain isn’t orthopedic.”

Positive gains

“We thought MS was messing up her hips,” Shemar says, remembering that dark time. “But now she’s dancing in the kitchen. She’s lost weight. She has her yoga. I just take a breath and be grateful.” Yoga is essential to Marilyn’s life, even before her diagnosis. She proudly announces that she had not been in her top form in over eight years — but she got there last week.

“Yoga is perfect for setting goals for yourself,” Marilyn says, “but also for setting boundaries. Wherever you’re at in that moment is perfect. That’s the ultimate goal.”

Shemar moved his mother to a beach home in Los Angeles so she could be close by and look out at the water. Yet positivity for them is still a conscious choice. “You’ve got to fight and enjoy every moment,” Shemar says. “It’s a tough disease. It affects people differently. [Having MS] doesn’t mean you have to die or dwindle away. We found more positivity and confidence as time went on.”

Shemar contends that the best support a family member can give someone with MS is to be their cheerleader from a genuine place. The actor raises awareness through social media as well as the Bike MS Coastal Challenge.

“As long as my mother has MS, I’m going to be riding that bike,” Shemar says. “In my lifetime, in my mom’s lifetime, I want a cure.”