In 1982, my doctor told me I might have multiple sclerosis; I was fifteen. In 1996, I heard the same thing; I was a first-year teacher in bush Alaska. In 2011, I left my chosen profession as an educator for medical disability; I was forty-three and in my prime earning years. Today, I defy the odds and live beyond multiple sclerosis with one eye in the rearview mirror to ensure it is not sneaking up behind me.
I tell newbie MSers that there has never been a better time to have MS. Let’s be real, no one wants to have it, but we don’t have a choice. However, the number of disease-modifying medications available today is astounding, with more on the horizon. Genetic research is coming down the pike, aligning our DNA with the most effective drugs.
I am writing this on a plane returning from an eight-day trip to Arizona. In the past week, I drove from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon, Yuma, San Diego, Phoenix, and Tucson, then flew back to Montana. I clocked plenty of miles and saw many beautiful places. If this isn’t defying the odds twelve years after medical retirement, I don’t know what would be.
My secret: sleep. I protect my sleep hours, eat well and manage the stress of traveling by preplanning. To live life beyond multiple sclerosis, I refuse to allow MS to become the focus of my life but rather an afterthought, and even then, only when I have to think about it.
Live life to the fullest every day; we don’t know what tomorrow will bring – that’s my mantra.
Wyoming Jeepers News
Coming Up – On July 8, 2023, Wyoming Jeepers will take a fan trip to the Pryor Mountains smack in the middle of wildflower season. The mountain wildflowers awe me every summer. On August 5, 2023, we will take fans to explore the back roads near Cooke City, Montana. Watch our show “One Hail of a Day” to see the area. You can watch us in the Pryor Mountains in the upcoming April 2023 episode on YouTube. Join us for the ride!
Wyoming Jeepers released a new show on February 26, 2023, “Exploring Wyoming’s Wild Beauty.” This scenic, fifteen-hour trip through the Big Horn Mountains and Devil’s Canyon on August 12, 2022, did not leave us much time to stop for people shots, but boy, did we manage to shoot some jaw-dropping scenery in this 30-minute episode.
BOOK OF THE MONTH – March 2023
Book Recommendation – I recommend books that will benefit multiple sclerosis patients, people with chronic illness, and caretakers each month. I select books based on my recommendation and receive no compensation for choosing them. All links to Amazon are affiliate links, however.
Buoyant: What Held Us Up When Our Bodies Let Us Down
Defying the Odds – Imagine receiving the devastating news that you have six months to live with no hope. What would you do? What if you were a parent of two young children? Janet and her husband Steve battled her cancer for 19 long years, exploring every avenue, from speaking with scientists to participating in clinical trials, enduring endless surgeries, medications, disfigurement, feeding tubes, pain, and financial hardship. Janet and Steve’s remarkable courage, strength, and perseverance are truly inspiring.
Dotty Holcomb Doherty, a former teacher and a young mother, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, quickly ending her teaching career. Both Dotty and Janet faced life-changing health challenges but shared a deep love for New England’s natural beauty. With Steve’s support, Dotty documented Janet’s story at her friend’s request in Buoyant: What Held Us Up When Our Bodies Let Us Down.
As I read their story, I couldn’t help but be taken back to when my friend and I were young mothers and new teachers fresh out of college. Around the same time, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Sadly, my friend passed away two years later, giving me a different life perspective. I have never felt sorry for myself because I raised my children and lived my life, despite having my career cut short due to my health. I strive to maintain a positive attitude daily, living life to the fullest in honor of my friend who never had the chance.
Janet, Steve, their family, and my friend and her family displayed incredible resilience during the most challenging times. Janet’s story, as told by MSer Dotty, is a testament to the power of perseverance in defying the odds. They are an inspiration to us all.
April 18th – Author Talk – Ketchikan Library at 7 p.m.