Runner Kayla Montgomery Catches Our Hearts
The first time I watched “Catching Kayla” I cried like a baby, and I’m not usually a crier. I think it was because I saw a lot of similarities between my symptoms and Kayla’s, and I’m sure many of you did too.
Kayla's story is a remarkable one. She is a teenager who was handed a devastating diagnosis. In the face of adversity she chose dignity, strength, and positivity. Her story could have been one of a 13 year old girl who was tragically diagnosed with MS and had to quit playing soccer, but needless to say that is not how her story goes. Kayla quickly learned that while some things may change after being diagnosed with MS, they don’t necessarily have to change for the worse. She took up running and slowly but surely went from being one of the slowest on her team, to being one of the fastest in the nation.
I often say being diagnosed with MS is like running top speed into brick wall, falling down, getting up a little dazed, and starting to run in another direction. I chose to change directions with my nursing career, and altered my work out routine. These weren’t huge changes, but they ended up making a huge impact on where I am today. Similarly, by switching from soccer to running, Kayla has found her way to shine. She found a new passion that better fit her lifestyle, put everything she had into it, and through sheer determination and hard work she exceeded everyone's expectations.
MS steals our ability to take things for granted. Suddenly having energy, walking, and being pain free are luxuries. It’s definitely not easy, but at times this can be a silver lining. If harnessed it can be used to help us reach our full potentials, and to be more resourceful than ever before. I try to live every good day to the fullest, and I appreciate the people and things that I do have more than ever before. I loved being a neurosurgical nurse, and I was really excited about my future career as a nurse anesthetist. However, I find what I’m doing now as an MS nurse and advocate to be even more exciting and fulfilling. I’m guessing that Kayla feels the same way about getting the chance to run her heart out, even after her legs give up on her.
A popular saying is that although we have MS, MS does not have us. I agree that we are not defined by our disease, but I do think our lives are shaped by it. We are stronger, more resourceful, and more grateful for the things we do have. Some of us have changed career paths, found new passions, and learned who our true friends are. These changes can be extremely painful, but Kayla is showing the world that sometimes they can be for the better.
Finally, I hope we all find our hidden talents. Don’t feel inadequate if you didn’t become an all-star runner after being diagnosed. If you are doing all that you can, than good for you! ESPN may not do a segment on you but I am impressed, and the whole MS community is cheering for you!
How well do people around you understand MS?