Ann Romney’s New Book Is About Hope, Determination And Awareness With Multiple Sclerosis
Once upon a time there was a little girl who lived a perfect life. Her hopes and dreams were like any other little girl and with each passing year her blessings grew exponentially. Her future looked perfect and bright.
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Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine that one day she’d grow up and receive a diagnosis that would change her life forever.
Does this story sound like someone you know? It could be the story of countless people living with MS.
But this particular story belongs to Ann Romney. Yes, that Ann Romney. The one married to former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney and the daughter of Edward Davies, former Mayor of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan and a self-made industrialist.
In her heartfelt memoir “In This Together” Mrs. Romney chronicles her journey of living with multiple sclerosis from her diagnosis in 1998 to today.
“Mitt and I had gone home from the hospital the day I was diagnosed with a brochure about MS that answered all of our immediate questions; it felt like we’d bought a washing machine and were given a pamphlet outlining the extended warranty.”
Hearing about Ann Romney’s MS – from the shock of diagnosis through acceptance, to finding what medications and modalities worked for her – felt a lot like reliving my own story.
But let’s be honest. We all know that Mrs. Romney’s wealth and notoriety would provide her with the gold standard of healthcare that many of us can’t afford. Yet we also know that MS doesn’t discriminate. Her struggles with the disease are ones we live with every day.
With the support of her family, friends and her medical team Mrs. Romney faces her illness head-on, with an open mind and never-ending curiosity to learn all she can.
“As I began adjusting to my new reality my physical condition got worse every single day. It felt like there was a wildfire raging through my body. I would wake up in the morning wondering what part of my body would be attacked that day. The numbness in my leg had started at a spot near my knee; it had now travelled all the way down to my toes and up my torso.”
Ann Romney is unlike me in many ways. I have one son; she has five. I am a Jew; she is Mormon. I am a liberal; she is Republican.
But as I read her story I saw more similarities between us than I imagined, and in those similarities I cultivated a sort of bond with Ann. (Yup. I now feel comfortable enough to call her Ann!)
I was asked by St. Martin’s Press to review “In This Together” and, along with other MS bloggers, be part of a call-in show to interview Ann.
The first thing I learned from the call (and was thrilled about) was this: All proceeds from “In This Together” will go to Brigham & Women’s Hospital Center and to neurologic research not only for MS but also for ALS, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and brain tumors :
“I’ve been thinking about it a lot and talking to some other colleagues and honestly, what I do helps with Parkinson’s and other illnesses. He said, they’re more related, we’re finding, than what we thought. It was his idea to broaden it to MS, Alzheimer’s, ALS, Parkinson’s, and they also found that some of the drugs they were using for MS, was helping with the treatment of a previously inoperable and incurable brain tumor. So, they included brain tumors as well. So it’s going to be unique. We are going to have all of these researchers and scientists under one roof. There will be obviously the research going on, there will be diagnostic testing, there will be treatment, and doctors’ visits all under one roof. The center will open next October, right across the street from Brigham and Women’s Hospital.” ~Ann Romney, on her discussions with her neurologist Dr. Howard Weiner on the opening of the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases
Ann was diagnosed at a time where there were approved MS medications, and while there were none when I was diagnosed we were both told by neurologists to go home and wait for our next flare-up.
We both were very wise to ignore their advice.
Ann began a journey of exploration to find ways to continue living the full life she was accustomed to and searched for a path toward wellness. Her lifelong love of horses proved to be one of her keys for this. A childhood passion, horseback riding helped Ann cope with the emotional baggage of MS.
“Taking up riding had made a fundamental difference in my life. Instead of wishing that I would die quickly rather than being devoured piece-by-piece, as I had been thinking only a few months earlier, it helped me learn how to live with my disease.”
She also remained open to alternative paths for her wellness. She explored reflexology and cranial sacral therapy, finding therapists through recommendations. It was fascinating to read the details of these experiences, prompting me to begin my own search into them.
I recommend Ann Romney’s book to anyone living with MS, but particularly to those who are newly diagnosed. She writes her truth with courage, a positive attitude and what people used to call “moxie.”
This is not the Pollyanna story you’d expect from someone famous. There’s no spoiled little girl here. In fact it’s quite the opposite. Ann Romney illustrates her worst fears along with her best, showcasing the struggles we all face alongside of her own.
NOTE: I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Mrs. Romney and Dr. Howard Weiner for creating a center geared toward research for not only MS but also Alzheimer’s, ALS , Parkinson’s and brain tumors. I hope you’ll check it out (See video below):
The Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases will be at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts (BWH) is a collaborative global pursuit to accelerate treatments, prevention, and cures for five of the world’s most complex neurologic diseases: multiple sclerosis (MS), Alzheimer’s disease, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Parkinson’s disease, and brain tumors.
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