I was diagnosed with MS when I was 18, during my freshman year of college. However, my first "attack" was when I was 14. Being away from home and being on my own was enough of an adjustment, however, MS added a whole new, unexpected dimension to my life. I thought MS was an immediate sentence to a wheelchair, and having been very athletic all of my life, this terrified me. However, I very quickly realized that this was not the case. I was just beginning my life, and I was not going to allow MS to end it.
I began treatment, changed treatments, had exacerbations, went on steroids, changed treatments again, and have finally found what works for me. But it definitely took a toll on me. It is very frustrating to deal with an illness that is so unpredictable, especially because I have a tendency to plan every aspect of my life. MS was not a part of my "5-year plan" so-to-speak, but I only had two options: I allow MS to dictate how I live my life and what I accomplish, or I make adjustments as needed, and still strive towards my goals.
I have always wanted to become a physician, but after being diagnosed, I questioned that goal. I questioned whether or not I would be capable of making it, and for the first time, lost confidence in myself. I wish that I had never allowed to myself to question my abilities. After losing precious time to self-doubt, I finally realized that I have one life, and there was only one way I wanted to live it.
With the help and support of my family and friends, I regained my confidence, and am still on my way to becoming a physician. It was definitely not the path that I had envisioned for myself, but I have learned a very important lesson so far: it's not always about the ultimate goal; it's about enjoying the ride. I allow myself to have bad days, but know that these are not the defining moments of my life.
I stopped allowing MS to define who I was, and instead, use it as a way of discovering who I am.
This will be my third consecutive year participating in the MS Walk, and my second year as the team captain of team Miracle walkerS, which I started last year. I am extremely proud to say that last year we raised $6,575 as a team, and I personally raised $2,880. I have volunteered at the MS Challenge Walk and the MS 150 City-to-Shore Bike Tour. I also was an Information Resource Specialist with the Society, Peer-Support Volunteer, and spoke to newly diagnosed patients from my doctor's office.