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Sunday, March 22, 2015

The "Multiple Sclerosis" Club: An Impressive Group

In my research about life with MS during the last few years, I have come to a very obvious conclusion. The achievements and talents of those afflicted by MS are astounding. I have encountered artists, authors, poets, scientists, and leaders. I have encountered tech geniuses, speakers, athletes defying physical odds, motivators, and businesspeople.

The life achievements of those living with MS are incredibly impressive. These are individuals who suffer from a debilitating disease, but continue to aspire to succeed and excel despite the circumstances. I have met patients who continued to complete college degrees after diagnosis, who have created some of the most beautiful works of art I have seen, and those who have created books that truly belong on the New York Times Bestseller list. Every day it seems, I meet a new patient who impresses me. By any standard, these achievements are incredible. But, in the case of these amazing MS patients,  consider the odds that were overcome in order to achieve them.

One of my main areas of focus has been the phenomenon of achievement despite adversity. Challenges are somehow extremely motivating for many people, and I am always interested in hearing these stories of success.  What is it about struggle that leads to such determination? What is it about MS that seems to drive so many people to fight, overcome, and endure?

We may never have a clear understanding of why success follows hardship so often. What I do know, however, is that all of us can become inspired by these amazing stories. The benefit to all MS patients is that by observing these incredible patients, we come to the understanding that this disease does not spell the end of our lives. This disease is a challenge, a hardship, and a difficulty. But it is not the end of your story. You alone can choose how your story ends, no matter what your disabilities might be.

Maybe it is a human trait, to fight harder to regain control of our lives when that control is threatened. Though there are many negative aspects of chronic illness like MS, we should try to search for that silver lining, as small as it may seem at times. Use that hardship to motivate yourself. Fight on, and choose determination over devastation. It is (almost) always a choice to retain a positive outlook despite trying circumstances. We may not have ultimate control over our disease process, but we will always have a choice to remain positive in the face of adversity. Just take a moment to look around you, at all the incredibly inspiring patients who refuse to give up. You don't have to look too far....

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