April 23rd, 1998, 2:15 p.m. was the date that I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. At the time I thought it was the end of the world. It may have been because the neurologist who gave me my diagnosis was an idiot by telling me that "Your life as you know if is over, I would suggest you go home and put your affairs in order before you become incapacitated". Nice thing to hear when you are by yourself with absolutely no symptoms anymore! Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that one day I would celebrate this date!
But I am one of the lucky ones! I have a support system...my husband, my family (even if they are thousands of kilometers away), a good medical team and friends. When something like this happens to you, you certainly find out who your friends are! I think back to those first minutes, days and months and I couldn't have done it without everyone who was there to support me. But I am also pig headed and stubborn and I made the decision that "NO ONE" was going to tell me how my life would play out!
Today I don't think I would change my diagnosis of MS (except maybe the way it was delivered!) because it has made me who I am today. The worst part of this disease is the unpredictability, it can diminish the quality of life and create a world of never ending uncertainty, but isn't that what life is like generally? Don't people say that the only guarantee we have in life is taxes and death? Today is the only guarantee that we get, we can't change what happened yesterday and we have no idea what will happen tomorrow.
Living with MS is never easy, but life in general is never easy. Living with MS has given me opportunities that I never would have had without it in my life. It has given me the opportunity to:
- represent Australia at an elite level in rowing and now cycling
- to advocate for people living with a disability
- to educate and motivate
- to run and build a charity event to raise money for people living with MS
- That nothing is impossible if we dare to face our fears and believe in ourselves.
- See every difficulty as a challenge, a stepping stone and never be defeated by anything or anyone.
- That what I am able to do depends on what I expect of myself and on what I choose to do with my time.
- To love the journey and not the destination.
- To live my life with passion because who I am and what I do matters.