The Home T is committed to raising money for multiple sclerosis (MS) research at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, but we also want to help raise awareness about the disease and how it impacts people.
We first met Dell when she emailed us about how much she loved our Home T hoodie! Dell also told us that she was diagnosed with progressive MS several years ago. She explained that she's chosen to have an attitude of gratitude every day to embrace her life to the fullest. We loved her positive perspective and wanted to learn more about her story:
Tell us about this photo!
I LOVE my Maine hoodie - I wear it constantly and proudly. It is the softest hoodie I have ever worn (and as a person with MS I thank you for no tags inside the back!), it washes and dries beautifully, and the fact that you are helping fund MS research makes my heart sing.
What state do you call home?
I am a Maine girl. I have explored that beautiful state from stem to stern. The "feel" of Maine and the sound of the ocean feed my soul. In 2012 my husband accepted a great job transfer to Massachusetts, where we currently live. As a result this makes me an official "Mainer In Exile" :)
When did you learn you had multiple sclerosis, and do you have relapsing remitting or progressive?
I was diagnosed in July of 2009, have Progressive MS, and it is progressing. Since 2009 I have had to stop working outside the home, ended a job as a part-time actor because memorization became too much, and watched new physical and cognitive issues arise. Last year my lesions grew in size, my balance worsened, and I now have noise intolerance.
NONE of this matters because I have solid rock faith in God, choose to maintain a positive attitude about my life with MS, and continue to try new things. I have become a potter, I'm studying French, and my husband and I try to explore new Caribbean islands by cruising annually when possible. My motto is the Bible verse Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ, who gives me the strength I need."
What has multiple sclerosis helped you learn about yourself?
That it is okay to say no, or to cancel plans at the last minute, and to be okay with my decision and let it go. I have learned that my "MS Posse" - my husband, daughters, and girlfriends - truly love me, know me, know that I have certain limitations, never make me feel guilty, never pity me, laugh with me about my MS, and always make me feel loved and accepted for who I am.
What's one thing those that don't have multiple sclerosis should know about it?
I have two things I'd like to share with people who don't know about MS, and I share this info lovingly and just to help educate. The first is that we may look fine, but we are not. Most of us - especially folks with Progressive MS - live with some form of constant, chronic pain, and struggle some days to get dressed, to go out, and to function. I implore people lovingly to curb the urge to say things like "You have MS? But you look so good!" Silence, dear ones, really is golden :)
The second thing I'd like to share is that MS is incurable. We have it, researchers are working to find a cure, but it is incurable. So, much like refraining from telling us "You look so good", please try to refrain from asking us if we still have MS or if our MS is gone yet. WHEN there is a cure - and I believe there will be - you'll know. You'll know because we will be shouting from rooftops and dancing in the streets!
Do you have any advice for those living with multiple sclerosis?
First, know your body. Learn about your body. Listen to your body. MS is what you have - not who you are - so learn to be as good to your body as possible. Every MS body is different, so do whatever you can do keep yours in optimal working condition. I became a vegetarian three years ago - my muscles ripple less, I have stopped using a cane, and the fifty pounds I've shed was a lovely bonus! I take vitamins and supplements instead of injections or drugs and the holistic approach for me has helped tremendously. Aside from that pesky MS, my body feels good because I am good to it.
Second, do some sort of Physical Therapy (walking, swimming, tai chi, yoga) and Brain Therapy (jigsaw or written puzzles, learning a language, Lumosity brain games online) four or five days a week each. PT and BT will make such a difference in how you feel because not only will you feel like you have some control in the middle of having a disease you have no control over, it will help keep your muscles and gray matter working when MS doesn't want them to.
Lastly - maintain a positive attitude. Laugh, sing, smile - whatever it takes. Embrace the life you have, enjoy it to the fullest, and laugh every day. With a positive attitude you really can get through anything.
What's your favorite flavor of ice cream?
My MS body currently isn't tolerating fat well, so Hood Fat Free Strawberry Frozen Yogurt is my biggest treat blessing these days!
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In 2011, Beth Donaldson, mother of two and wife of a police SWAT officer, was busy with work and the day-to-day life of raising two children. But when she was diagnosed with MS at 40, she dedicated herself to making a difference. Now she and her husband Mike run Living MS and are launching a charity bike ride to benefit MS awareness and research.