When I got diagnosed with MS at the age of 17, I was overcome with so many questions and emotions. I found myself at a fork in the road: I could either let the diagnosis stop me in my tracks and control my life, or I could take it head on with determination, faith and courage, and not let it stop me from living the life I desired.
MS can often feel like a daunting obstacle we face daily, but at the end of the day we will conquer it… one moment, one day at a time.
To show MS who is boss, I am always looking for events that push me physically and help me experience the sense of pride and accomplishment that comes with finishing these events. I knew the National MS Society had events like Walk MS®, Challenge Walk® MS and Bike MS®, but I had recently learned of a new and different endurance event called Climb to the Top.
The description of the event said: “Scrap the elevator and challenge yourself to an indoor vertical 5K—ascend 1,215 stairs.”
I knew it was something I wanted to do!
My husband and I signed up for this epic event and began to train for our first vertical 5K. With this new goal and physical challenge on my calendar, my excitement soon turned to self-doubt.
“What if I won’t be able to finish? Will my legs be able to handle this?”
How often do we find ourselves in life letting these questions of self-doubt keep us from trying something new or accomplishing new goals? I found myself at a fork in the road yet again—I could either let my fears and self-doubt keep me from accomplishing this challenge, or I could take it on with courage and refuse to let MS stop me. I was raised that quitting was never an option—so I pushed through the self-doubt and began my vertical 5K training, one day, one step at a time.
As I trained, I realized how many similarities there were when it came to living with MS. Every day was different: some days I felt discouraged as I struggled to push through fatigue and pain, and other days I had lots of energy and strength. Little by little as training went on, my endurance increased and my ability to listen to my body and know when to stop and when to push through became clearer.
After all my training, the big day arrived! Walking into the lobby of the building, the energy and excitement was so thick and tangible. Music was bumping, and teams were lined up anxiously waiting for their name to be called to ascend the 66 flights of stairs to the top of Rockefeller Center. When it was my time to go, adrenaline kicked in—determined to climb the 1,215 stairs, one step at a time! Our legs and lungs burned, but a new cheering squad encouraging us to keep going at each floor. As we climbed the last few floors inching closer to the top, I couldn’t help but get emotional. Climbing these stairs was so much more than accomplishing a physical challenge: it was a mental and emotional victory. I pushed through self-doubt, pain and fatigue and showed MS who is boss!
Conquering MS may not look like climbing 66 flights of stairs for you, but we taste victory when we face our own challenges when living with MS. These achievements are different for each of us, but it doesn’t make them any less triumphant. It could look like climbing 66 flights of stairs, walking around the block, cooking dinner after a long day, or doing the laundry and playing with your kids.
Whatever victory you experienced today, big or small, CELEBRATE IT!