Chris
Chris
Physical therapist.
Father. Husband.
Diagnosed in 2011.


Chris Ramsey applies many of the same strategies he used training as an athlete to living well with MS.

“I used to be a competitive triathlete,” Chris says. “I look at exercise and nutrition as [ways] to keep the bar as high as it can be. The higher that I can keep my personal bar of - how strong I am, how good is my endurance, how healthy is my diet - the further that bar has to fall when the MS attack invariably comes along.”

While Chris exercises and eats well to manage MS symptoms like fatigue and depression, the physical therapist, father and husband says he finds it difficult to put his experience with MS into words since he lacks many visible MS symptoms. “I was talking with a parent while at my son’s gymnastics class. [This woman] looks at me and she says, ’There’s no way you have MS. I’ve worked with people with MS. I’m a nurse. You don’t have MS, you can’t have MS.‘

“That conversation stood out to me because it highlights the idea that [MS] is or can be invisible… but also that [knowledgeable] people still don’t comprehend that. There’s a lack of understanding…, and I think in part because it’s really hard to describe what MS feels like.”

Chris is committed to living with his best life and educating others.

“Despite MS, I’m going to keep being me. I’m going to be a father and husband as long as they’ll put up with me. I will keep helping people get back to their sports through physical therapy. I will teach people how to be active.”


Clarisa
Clarisa
Occupational therapist.
Mom.
Diagnosed in 2006.


When Clarisa Walcott was diagnosed with MS in 2006, she worried about how the disease would affect her as a mother, but also if it would ever affect her children.

“I think it’s important for us to understand why some people get MS and others don’t,” Clarisa says. “I have three children, and they have a 1-in-40 chance of developing MS as opposed to most people who have a 1-in-750 chance, and it weighs on my mind heavily. My daughter was only 6 months old when I was diagnosed, and I always knew that I wanted a larger family, and so with each child, I had to really think about how MS would affect them.”

Symptoms like chronic pain and fatigue created challenges for her as a new mother.

“I’d go to the park and see all these moms playing with their kids on the structures, and… I’d beat myself up thinking, ’I should be out there. I should be alongside my child playing and throwing them up in the air and doing all these things,’ and I couldn’t. I didn’t have the energy, I didn’t feel like I had the strength.”

After a long battle to find the right MS medication and complementary approaches like yoga and acupuncture, Clarisa is now living well with MS.

“I chose to keep going forward and finding ways I could help myself…” she says. “Multiple sclerosis may be a part of who you are, but it doesn’t define you as a person. You are who you are, and MS can’t take that away from you.”


Jessica
Jessica
Painter.
Dancer.
Diagnosed in 2012.


When Jessica was diagnosed with MS in the summer of 2012, she had trouble navigating the unpredictability of the disease. For a while, she felt she didn’t have control of how MS was affecting her.

“I had severe double vision to the point of where I was basically blind,” she says. “I couldn’t walk straight, my gait was completely messed up. I experienced consistent numbness in my fingertips. A huge thing for me was the depression that came along with it. The intense anxiety.”

But as time went on, Jessica’s love of the arts and perseverance helped shift her perspective on the disease. Now, she’s learning to take control and embrace herself.

“I am an artist who is living with MS. When it comes to my dancing, I feel like that’s one of my expressions that directly relates to my diagnosis,” she says. “My body is the manifestation of many things but one of those many things is my MS. And I’m I am continuing to love all parts of my body and parts of my body are my diagnosis.”

Although some days can be challenging, Jessica encourages others living with MS to acknowledge and remember how strong they truly are.

“MS is tough, but I’m tougher,” she says. “We have to remember how strong we are, even when we feel the complete opposite. Despite our feelings of feeling like we have no control, we can do it. We’re capable, and we’re worthy. And despite it all, we are triumphant.”





Yvette
Yvette
Mom.
MMA official.
Diagnosed in 2014.


My name is Ausjia. My mother, Yvette, has always lived a life dedicated to serving her community and looking out for other people. Most importantly, though, she has lived her life for her children. Yvette raised my brother and I as a single mother, working long hours with countless nights without sleep. She always did whatever it took to make sure my brother and I were taken care of.

My mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis nearly four years ago. I have watched this disease take its toll on her body and her mind, but what it hasn’t been able to do is damage her fighting spirit.

She’s had six MRIs in 10 months and for three of those, they told her she has new lesions on her brain. She smiled and said, “At least I’ll be safe during the zombie apocalypse. They don’t want my brain!” She even cracked jokes around the pain with a needle sticking out of her back during her spinal tap.

From muscle weakness to blurred vision, to pain and extreme fatigue, she’s told me that sometimes it feels as though this disease steals the very things that make her feel like a person. Staying positive when you can’t accept hugs because your whole body hurts is a challenge. Smiling through the memory loss and brain fog when you forget your children’s names or wonder why you put your cell phone in the refrigerator is a daily chore.

She started her years of service in Girl Scouts, and has never been afraid to get her hands dirty to help someone in need or for a worthy cause. She’s worked as a substitute teacher for almost 10 years, focusing on at-risk students at continuation schools.

Now she also works in the mixed martial arts world, constantly seeking to improve it and always making it a priority to ensure the safety of the fighters under her care. Many fighters refer to her as their MMA Mom because of the personal care she shows to everyone who crosses her path; they are all her babies.

Despite all of the pain and fatigue she has endured, my mother never stops trying to make a difference in people’s lives. Sometimes, I think she forgets to slow down and remember the impact that MS is having on her own body.