About the Campaign
I run because I have MS. I run because I can today. I run because yesterday I couldn’t. I run because tomorrow I might not be able to. I run because others can’t.
Three years ago I was on top of the world. I had just moved to Texas to start a competitive residency program in radiation oncology. I set a PR at the Chicago Marathon and then took 5th female at my first ultramarathon.
And then it started to fall apart. I lost the vision in my right eye. Despite my poor vision, I knew what my MRI showed. Thus my multiple sclerosis made its grand entrance. I developed recurrent trigeminal neuralgia (a sharp shooting pain in the face), progressive weakness in my extremities, drop foot, paresthesias and bone-crushing fatigue. I was started on super high doses of steroids and other medications to manage symptoms – at one point taking over 50 pills a day as each medication caused its own side effects, which required another pill. I spent hours at a time inside the MRI tube. I was advised not to speak of my condition for fear of losing residency and job prospects. Thus began my silent struggle with multiple sclerosis.
I struggled to walk, let alone run. I had to defer my Berlin Marathon entry that year. So I did what every normal ultra/marathoner does and signs up for another race. I chose a hard mountain race and slowly worked my way back to jogging and running. Slow and steady. I had days when muscle spasms had me falling down on race courses and caused me to legitimately crawl to the finish line. It wasn’t pretty, but I did it and I set a new PR at Berlin later that year.
People thought I was crazy. They still do. Running gave me goals. It gave me hope. It gave me a community. Most importantly it is a giant metaphor for life with MS. Some days you feel like a graceful antelope prancing over the mountains and some days you are a more like those fainting goats that drop without warning. It is unpredictable and hard to understand. My hope is that my run can enlighten more people about the disease, about what we go through on a daily basis even when we look fine. Most importantly my hope is that no one has to suffer alone or in silence. Since graduating residency, I decided to be more open about my diagnosis and I cannot wait to begin this 167 mile journey doing just that.