July marks my 7th MS anniversary and my 5th Tysabri anniversary. The days surely do fly by. I can’t believe it has been 7 years since my diagnosis. It feels like just yesterday I was in the hospital not knowing I was going to be diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I actually do not remember the exact date I was diagnosed, but I was released from the hospital on July 4th – Independence Day and always celebrate then. Shortly thereafter I received my diagnosis, I heard those 4 words that turns everything upside down: “You have Multiple Sclerosis.”
At times I still think maybe there was a mistake; maybe I don’t really have MS. That’s the tiny part of me that is still in denial. A lot of people question “Why me?” but I read someone asked “Why not me?” I really like this saying. I often think of the way I have handled my diagnosis and realize now that I handled it very gracefully. After my diagnosis I never cried, which is kind of strange since I am a crier, but instead wanted to know what I could do to be in as much control of this disease as possible.
Now 7 years later, I contribute the slowness of my progression to starting on a disease modifying drug very quickly, but mostly for choosing to take Tysabri after Avonex stopped working for me. Since starting Tysabri 5 years ago, I have not had a relapse or too much worsening of my symptoms. Of course, I do have daily symptoms and some days are worse than others. But, I know how much worse my MS could be, and I am very thankful for all the functions I still have control over.
As much I would rather not have MS, I am grateful for the many positive things MS has brought into my life. Each year I lead my family and friends in Boston’s Walk MS, which I find to be a very inspiring event. I have found a passion for raising awareness and am doing that by writing this blog, mentoring those newly diagnosed and pretty much making my voice heard to anyone who will listen. I also have made some amazing friends, some with MS and some without, that I wouldn’t have otherwise met. That is the most precious gift MS has given me.
So, this Independence Day not only will I celebrate the United States, but will also celebrate the positive gifts MS has given me. When you are watching the fireworks this 4th, maybe you will think of me for a moment and celebrate with me. Have a safe and happy July 4th!