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Keeping faith in your journey and yourself

By Shambreki√° Wise

There are a lot of things going on this month. First, we had National Black Women in Jazz and the Arts Day, followed up by International Women’s Day, with Holi right after. And of course all month long, we have Women’s History Month. But the obvious monthlong celebration we can’t overlook is National Multiple Sclerosis Education and Awareness Month

Launched by the MS Focus: the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation in 2003, this much-needed time of remembrance was initiated to not only educate those diagnosed with the disease, but to also inform those outside of the community of what MS is really like for those undergoing treatment

As I sit back and think of my own journey of relapsing remitting MS, I remember the day my diagnosis was made and the million emotions I felt all at once. Feelings of denial, anger, and sadness cloaked me and I didn’t see a way through this chronic disease. It was bound to take me out. Or so I thought. Ironically, this disease, even when I thought my life as I knew it would be over, was the beginning of something more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. I showed up differently, I mothered differently, and most importantly, I loved myself in a way I never had. This disease forced me to love all of me and fight with everything I had to not let a mental cloud of depression overtake me. It was truly work to navigate the many twists and turns, but through faith and determination I did it. From drug trials to failed treatment options, I allowed myself to feel all the emotions, but I never lost faith in my journey or myself. 

I can’t forget my support system. My family was amazing, but my star player was my little girl. My mightiest cheerleader would be the tiniest person in every room, but make no mistake, she had my back through it all. I always raised her not to say or believe in the word “can’t.” She took that to heart, because there would be days my slow road to recovery would get the best of me and I would say what I couldn’t do. She would then shout that I said a “bad wud” and I would have to take it back immediately. Those reprimands fell sharply once I decided that no matter my physical outcome, I would not fail. And I didn’t.

Eight years later, with my favorite neurologist since day one, a new community of friends from MS Focus, and a fantastic treatment found in Ocrevus, I have my life back. I take a holistic approach to caring for all of me so I can be there for all of her. I am so grateful for my journey and my newly found perspective. Sometimes, we find the thing that was supposed to ultimately break is actually the foundation to our greatest story not yet told. 

Join the community, volunteer with a group, take a walk, donate to research, or do whatever sings to your heart; but find a way to take part as we continue to make our voices heard and seek out a cure for MS. And if you’re not there yet, we understand, but know that you’re not alone. You will get through this, and we are here when you are ready.

Till Next Time.