What is a Warrior?
I guess I was naïve. I think I never really understood what it means to be an MS warrior. I had this image that if you are a warrior, nothing can touch you. If you do everything right, you will be shielded from the bad. But really, being a warrior means that you continue to fight and keep pushing forward in spite of the obstacles that try to slow you down.
It took me a year before I was able to even talk about Multiple Sclerosis without crying or getting upset. My diagnosis was only three years ago, and for the last year and a half my MRIs have been stable. This led me to have a sense of security and confidence that the lifestyle I follow is doing what it is supposed to. Honestly, I think I was even a little smug about it, and of course it is easy to keep going forward when you feel like everything is working out. But MS is anything but easy. I thought that by accepting that I have MS I was prepared for anything.
There is a plethora of scientific evidence which shows MS disease progression can be slowed through healthy diet and exercise. Unfortunately, I think I had unconsciously gone to the next level and convinced myself that this could stop the disease. That all came crashing down when a new lesion was found on my latest MRI. In hindsight, it should not have been surprising. The month prior to my visit I had experienced two weeks of constant dizziness. This kept me from doing anything strenuous. Retrospectively, I can see now that I was going through a relapse. The truth is I had only accepted the fact that I have the disease, but not that it can actually get worse. Upon hearing the results of the MRI, I found myself having a hard time coming to terms with it.
The fact is, we cannot control the curve balls MS will throw us, but we can control how we live our lives and the foods we eat. So during those times we are stricken by a relapse or new symptoms, our body has the resources it needs to heal as best it can. It isn't about stopping the disease because that is unattainable and will led to disappointment. Furthermore, since disease progression rates vary from person to person, it shouldn't even be about slowing progression because that is difficult to measure. It should simply be about doing everything within your power to live your best life. For me, the foundation for this starts with my MS diet.
A warrior uses all the tools at their disposal to be equipped for what lies ahead. Even when there are set backs a warrior will keep fighting and never give up. As MS warriors we cannot predict the outcome of the disease but we can make sure we use all the tools at our disposal and continue to push forward.
Amanda Windhof, PhD is an MS lifestyle advocate who wants to ensure a healthy diet is accessible to everyone.