What an awesome weekend! I came to Atlanta to learn how to share my story with MS, but I'm leaving with so much more. I spent the weekend with 11 other people with very different stories of being diagnosed and now living with MS. All I've ever known is my own story so to hear these other wonderful people was absolutely amazing. Some dealt with symptoms of MS long before they were diagnosed because they either didn't have time to stop their busy lives and get to a doctor or they blamed their symptoms on other things. Each one of us shared our story. In fact, we did it so much we could probably recite each others! Actually, that's not entirely true. Every time I told my story a little different. All of it was still true, but sometimes as I was talking, another part of my life would just come out of my mouth. For example, one time I just went off from my talking points to tell about my first MS150 experience. The adrenalin rush of turning the corner to the finish line, seeing people lining the streets shouting for you, as I wore a jersey that read, "I have MS. This is why I ride". What an amazing feeling of joy. Somehow all the pain from riding so far is gone and the sense of accomplishment fills you. The time I included that part, my speech went from just over ten minutes to fifteen!!! Oops! Sorry y'all!
This opportunity gave each of us a chance to relive everything we've been through. We each had a place in our story where we had a significant turning point. To hear those gave a sense of empowerment that we weren't going to let MS control us, but that we were going to control it.
Thank you to all my new friends from this weekend for sharing your story with me. Thank you to all of you who work everyday to put these kind of events together. We are all apart if the Gilenya family! (thanks Christina! I stole your line!)