The Home T is committed to raising money for multiple sclerosis research, but we also find it to be very important to raise awareness about the disease.
We first met Alicia over email when she thanked us for our donation to multiple sclerosis research and told us how she can't wait to buy her first Home T! She explained that she is a marathon runner and single mom who was newly diagnosed with MS. We chatted with her to learn more about her journey.
What state do you call home?
Kentucky... born and raised!
When did you learn you had multiple sclerosis?
I was diagnosed with MS in June 2015 at the age of 33. In early May 2015 I woke up with the left side of my face numb... but I didn't really think anything of it and just thought it was stress, but man was I wrong.
After being sick for two weeks and multiple MRI's along with a hospitalization, I finally was on the mend. But since I saw a neurologist in the Hospital and they still didn't really know the cause of my sickness, I had to follow up with the neurologist in June.
I honestly thought everything would be fine and that my illness was just some fluke thing that happened. After reviewing my MRI's with the doctor he then explained to me that he was diagnosing me with Multiple Sclerosis. I was certain the doctor was wrong because 1) I am healthy and active and too young to be diagnosed with a life long disease 2) I have small kids to take care of and watch grow into adults and have families of their own 3) God would never give me this burden to carry.
I will never forget that day and the confusion that immediately fell over me, and then the anger I felt towards the doctor because he had to be wrong! I sat there alone, trying to wrap my mind around it and ask intelligent questions when all I wanted to do was crawl under something and hide. It has taken me almost a year to come to terms with my diagnosis and to be able to talk about it.
I feel like I have been living in secret for the past year because I didn't want people to look at me differently or feel sorry for me. Through great support and love from family and close friends and lots of prayer and understanding of God's plan for me, I know he chose me to have this disease to show others that MS doesn't have to slow you down. If anything it has made me stronger and more determined than ever!
Do you have relapsing remitting or progressive?
I have relapsing MS. Thankfully my symptoms seem to be contained at this time. Aside from some annoying tingling/numbness in my hands and arms, fatigue, and being scattered brained at times even I sometimes forget I've been diagnosed with a life long disease.
Have you always been a runner? What motivated you to run a marathon?
I have only been running for about a year and half. Honestly, I've always hated running even when I played sports growing up. I never understood why someone would want to run for fun?!? After my diagnosis, I knew it was imperative for me to stay healthy for my girls. I no longer knew what my future held for me or if I would be able to even walk in a year. So after going through many emotions of being angry and feeling sorry for myself, I began to take my running to another level.
But I'm telling you, I could have never done it without my friends and family pushing me and encouraging me. It has literally been baby steps... starting with my first 5k, then increasing my distance to 5 miles, and throwing in some trail running which has now lead me to my most recent feat, a half marathon. I completed my first half marathon on April 2, 2016 and as I hit mile 12 I began to cry because reality hit me and I knew I was going to finish... I had crushed yet another goal.
2016 is a year of reaching goals for me, because life is short and I don't want to have any regrets. So my next goal is to complete a marathon this year on my 35th birthday.
How do you juggle being a mom, working, and training for a marathon?
Ahhhh...the million dollar question! Some days I honestly don't know how I do it. I'm a single mom of two beautiful daughters ages 10 and 4. My time with my girls is split, but I work a full time job along with a part time job when I don't have my girls and somewhere in between all of that I run and workout. I love to run outside but that's not always possible, so I take my girls with me to the gym and they do their homework or read while I run on the treadmill.
I have learned how to be creative to get my runs in, because not only do I need it for my physical health but I need it for my emotional well being as well. There is honestly nothing better than going for a run and enjoying Gods scenery, reflecting on your day...your life, and taking that time to talk to God.
What has multiple sclerosis helped you learn about yourself?
I always knew I was a strong person, but since my diagnosis I have learned that I truly can do anything I set my mind too. I know that sounds cliché but I honestly feel stronger and healthier than I ever have. I take great pride in my daughters seeing and being a part of my accomplishments.
I questioned it many times and asked God many times "why me?" but I finally realized that I was chosen for a reason to live with MS and as long as I am able, I will continue to put a smile on my face and encourage others and be proactive in raising awareness for the importance of MS research.
What's one thing those that people who don't have multiple sclerosis should know about it?
Although you may not be able to see outward signs of someone living with MS, there are many symptoms that are difficult to explain. Fatigue is probably the most difficult thing I deal with and somedays the amount of energy it actually takes for me to get out of bed is unexplainable. But the biggest thing that kept me from going public with my diagnosis was not wanting people to look at me or treat me like I had a disease. I don't want people's pity... I want their unconditional love and encouragement.
Do you have any advice for those living with MS?
My advice for those living with MS is to live each day to the fullest. Always find a positive and be thankful for another day with your family and friends. Philippians 4:6-7, Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
What's your favorite ice cream?
By far the easiest question... Double chocolate fudge brownie!
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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.