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Dare to Hope

August 14, 2008

Daring to hope for the best is a special kind of risk,
but it's worth it.

I once heard someone say, "Successful people aren’t less afraid, they just don’t let fear stop them." 

My MS has taught me a thing or two about fear.  Over the past 15 years, I have had seven significant MS exacerbations. Most of these “attacks” impaired my ability to walk for months at a time. When my son was only a year and a half old, I had an especially severe lesion in my neck that partially paralyzed me from my neck down.  I could not walk, type, or button my clothes for several months. Just taking a shower and getting dressed in the morning was exhausting. Worse, I couldn’t carry my baby boy. For a year, I went through physical therapy three times a week, endured several rounds of high-dose steroid infusions, and began a strict dietary regimen.  I felt like I was fighting for my life.  And in a sense, I was.  MS rarely kills, but it can deconstruct your life until you don’t recognize it—or yourself—anymore. 

Fortunately, the body can heal.  Patience and perseverance paid off for me.  Less than two years later, I took a ski lift to the top of a mountain in Solitude Utah not knowing if I had the strength or coordination to ski again. I cried on the way up that mountain because I was terrified and I cried on the way down because I was ecstatic. That day I learned that anything is possible. If we don’t challenge ourselves and take risks, we will never know what we are capable of.  That day gave me the courage to start my own company.

Too many people believe they have to abandon their dreams when they face a serious diagnosis.  They let the fear stop them.  To change that, I started the TurnFirst Foundation to help people newly diagnosed with MS. In the first days, weeks, even years after a diagnosis, provides the information, resources, and support patients and their families need to alleviate the fear and confusion that often accompany their diagnosis.  With, they are better prepared to take on the challenges of MS, advocate for themselves, and set a hopeful course for their future.

Daring to hope for the best is a special kind of risk, but it is worth it.  As Václav Havel once wrote, “Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”  Certainly, anyone who is fighting for something they believe in—an idea, a company, a dream for the future—understands that it is hope that carries us beyond fear to action.

Posted in: Diagnosis, Living with MS - Tagged (3): hope, work, risks