Meet Quad Cities Walk MS Ambassador Angela Baker, diagnosed Sept. 7, 2002
Angela Baker, this year’s Walk MS Quad Cities Ambassador, kept her MS diagnosis a secret for eight years. But today, she’s committed to sharing her story and rallying others to join her in the movement to create a world free of MS.
In September of 2002, I was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. The call from my doctor literally dropped me to my knees. My first thought went to my kids. How could an active young mom with two small children be given a life sentence like this?
The weeks that followed were full of more tests, doctor appointments and many tears. When they were finished poking and scanning me, the doctors prescribed a standard treatment. They put me on a medication that requires injections three times per week and told me I would need yearly MRIs to monitor the progression of my disease. I went home, followed the directions and kept my diagnosis a secret — from everyone but my husband and mom — for eight years.
In 2010, I changed my outlook on MS and became an active participant in finding new methods to fight the disease. I now take charge of my own health and want to share my story to help others and raise funds for additional research. Telling my story and participating in Walk MS is an important part of my journey.
In 2012, I celebrated the 10-year anniversary of my diagnosis. I really feel like I can say, “I celebrated” because I am controlling MS, it is not controlling me, and that is definitely something to celebrate!
In what way has MS made the biggest impact on your life?
I am very fortunate that MS has not had any debilitating effects on my life. MS has actually impacted my life in good ways by causing me to take charge of my own health and make healthy living decisions for myself and my family. I am much more conscious of everything in our environment now and trying to make good decisions for a long healthy life.
Why did you decide to participate in Walk MS?
As part of my journey with this disease, I needed to become actively involved in MS awareness and helping support the research that is necessary to help find a cure. Walk MS was a great way to get involved and provided a way for my family and friends to participate in my journey. Often, people feel helpless when they receive a diagnosis and those around you feel like they don’t know what to do to help. This is one way we can all work together and feel like we have some control over the future of this disease.
What’s your favorite thing about Walk MS?
I love that the walk brings family and friends together to work toward the same goal, to find a cure for MS. Everyone is affected by MS in a different way, but we all want the same thing. It’s a wonderful feeling to be united in such a great cause.
How many years have you participated in the event?
I wasn’t aware of Walk MS until 2010. I made donations to the walk that year and then decided to become more involved the next year. I’ve come a long way since then. This is my third year as a team captain, and I’m so proud to be the Quad City Walk MS Ambassador this year!
What is one thing you wish people could understand about MS?
I wish people could understand how different MS is for each person that has the disease. Some people are as fortunate as I am and can live a completely normal life by making lifestyle changes, while others have devastating effects from the disease.
What is the most important, meaningful or memorable connection you have made since being diagnosed with MS or having someone close to you diagnosed?
I feel like I have made a meaningful and memorable connection to every member of my Walk MS team, the MS Milers. Whether they have donated to the cause, come to the walk to cheer me on or walked the miles with me, each member of the team truly has a special place in my heart.
What makes you a great walk ambassador?
I am passionate about finding a cure for MS, not just for me but everyone affected by the disease. I am willing to share my story, I have a family that is willing to work with me to support the cause, and I’m comfortable speaking in public. I’m also knowledgeable about the disease, optimistic that we will find a cure in my lifetime, and I was one of the top fundraisers (locally) for the past two years.
What makes your story with MS unique?
Each person that is diagnosed with MS has a unique story and experiences based on how the disease affects them, their family and friends, and how they choose to react to the experience. The way I kept my disease a secret so long may be unique, but I love that when people hear how long I’ve had MS, they are surprised. My favorite response is, “I would have never known” because I like the idea that the disease is not controlling me, I am controlling my disease.
Angela may be reached for interviews at firstname.lastname@example.org. To speak with a National MS Society, Upper Midwest Chapter spokesperson, please contact Anna at 612-335-7918 or email@example.com.
Walk MS 2013
Join Angela and thousands of others by getting involved in Walk MS. To learn more, register or donate, visit myMSwalk.org.