“I feel like going on.” This is the title of and lyrics to one of my favorite spiritual songs, and I sing it often. The words soothe my soul. They encourage me on the days I really want to quit, and they empower me on those days when I am ready to conquer the world. I exist in both realms. In 2014 when my MS diagnosis was received, I couldn't fathom the depth of this journey. I couldn’t envision what pain and fatigue would do to my physical body and mental health. Multiple Sclerosis has brought me to the precipice of overwhelming sadness. It has also taught me to savor the beautiful, fleeting moments of joy in my life. With that being said, what I know for sure is that I am a fighter, destined to survive and thrive.
Acknowledging all of my experiences
To deny my valley experiences is to refute an important part of who I am today and all I have persevered through. There is power in acknowledging and sharing all of my story. It takes courage to recognize fear and honesty to confront it. Self-awareness requires deep introspection. I waver from crying a river of tears, to wailing “why me?” to resolving that this too shall pass. These emotions are processed and eventually, I regain my composure. I make a conscious effort to go on.
Grateful for my support system
Gratitude has become an important ritual in my life. I give thanks for the blessings I receive even in the paroxysm of illness and adversity. I realize that a bad day is not equivalent to a bad life. I am grateful for a loving husband, family, friends, and a strong support system. Advocacy has sharpened my vision. I’ve met extraordinary people who understand the life of chronic illness. I have the opportunity to serve on advisory boards and share the importance of the unique patient experience. I have the opportunity to encourage and advocate for diversity in healthcare and quality of life decisions. Finally, I have the privilege of serving mankind and leaving the world better and brighter than I found it.
I am more than MS
Giving up is not in my DNA. I feel like going on because I want to live, give and prosper. I feel like going on because through it all, I am more than Multiple Sclerosis. I am a beautifully flawed, raw, purposed and open heart. I am the woman who proudly bares her scars and wears her heart on her sleeve.
Each day, I collect the pieces of my life. The joy, pain, loss, gain and all of life’s lessons are in my arsenal. They are both my armor and ammunition to continue on this journey. At the end of my existence, the remnants of my life will create the beautiful mosaic of my essence. It will tell the story of a warrior who endured.
A word of encouragement
Please allow me to encourage you. You are here for a reason. Your existence is divinely on purpose and you are more than your diagnosis or circumstance. Be as gentle to yourself as you are with others. Going on is a leap of faith, a necessary evil and/or an act of rebellion. Whichever description you choose, please keep going. I will too.
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