The Home T is committed to raising money for multiple sclerosis research at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society but we also want to help raise awareness about the disease and how it impacts people.
This interview is part of an ongoing series where we talk to members of The Home T community that are impacted by multiple sclerosis. Today, we’re going to hear from Julia.
We first met Julia when she posted a photo on our Facebook page wearing her Florida Home T with her friend! She explained that she has been fighting MS for 30 years will not give up until MS stands for Mystery Solved!
What state do you call home?
I now call Arizona my Home State (after being born & raised in Florida).
Tell us why you moved all the way to Arizona?
We moved to Arizona after taking many vacations to different states and when it came time for me and my husband to sell our business we had together for over 32 years, our last 4 trips to Arizona were so wonderful. I was able to hike, ride my bike, and even horseback ride (which I love). When we returned to Florida I asked my Neurologist why was I able to do so much, even in the heat, and he explained that the dry heat was so much better for MS than the moist heat (high humidity) of Florida! Even if this meant leaving friends and family behind, we made the choice to move out West!
When did you learn you had multiple sclerosis?
I believe it was about October 1985, but back then I was very stubborn and just thought it would go away (most doctors said I was in denial). Lost most of the vision in my left eye which they called Marcus Gunn Optic Nerve Damage from MS and I also had 2 eye surgeries.
Do you have relapsing remitting or progressive?
I have Relapsing Remitting MS and a few rough exacerbations that I am so grateful I had the right information and medication. Many years ago the steroids and weekly injections had taken a toll on my body which is why it is so important to not only have the right doctors but to have the right information for the demyelinating disease you are dealing with.
How did you get involved with Walk MS?
I got involved with Walk MS from one of the nurses at the office. She asked me if I wanted to go to the event. Then before I knew it, my dear friend Donna Kemp helped me get a full Team together for a Walk MS in Orlando, Fl. We had 14 Team Members (including Boo the Doggie Mascot) and raised over $1,200 each year for 3 years! When we moved, I was so proud of our Team Saltzer (they kept the Team together) and did the Walk MS in Orlando, Florida even if I was only there in Spirit! It really touched my heart and now I need to get a team together here in Prescott, Arizona.
What has multiple sclerosis helped you learn about yourself?
Never, ever give up! I knew I was a very stubborn person, but you are in for a real fight with this disease. It is such a roller coaster rider with many ups and downs.
What's one thing those that people who don't have multiple sclerosis should know about it?
Well, I think that people need to understand it does not always show on the outside (especially for RRMS)! So we often hear, "Oh! You look just fine!" or "You look so good you can't have MS, you aren't even in a wheelchair!" It is sad that people still think of MS & Wheelchair!
Do you have any advice for those living with MS?
Yes! First, if you are not happy with your Doctor, find a new one, it is very important. Second, it is so important to have correct information once you are diagnosed (the MRI/Lumbar Puncture test). Lastly, make sure that you are on the correct medication and fight the insurance company for what is right for your chronic disease. Remember this is not saying you are going to be in a wheel chair or not able to do the things you did before, you might have to change a few things in your life but you still go on living! I ride bikes, hike, horseback ride, swim, love to race cars, and next year I will learn snow boarding! Never ever give up!
What's your favorite flavor of ice cream?
I LOVE this question most of all because I really try to eat healthy, but I think it is so important to have treats in all our lives! My favorite Flavor is hard to say because I love a big hot fudge sundae and if I really had to pick a flavor it would be chocolate chip mint (with hot fudge & whip cream).
She also has a small service dog named Boo who is super adorable (and has a Facebook page.) She thinks The Home T should start selling doggy apparel, comment below if you agree!
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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.