Susan Stellmacher, diagnosed in 1989
Susan Stellmacher is an active MS Society volunteer and activist. She is also a resident of Kingsley Commons, Minnesota’s first apartment building for people with multiple sclerosis. Susan shares her story with everyone in hopes to educate and engage people in the MS movement.
What memories do you have from your diagnosis?
What I remember most is that it was a relief because the neurologist was ruling out a brain tumor or stroke. He felt strongly that I had MS, and I remember thinking “So I have MS, what a relief… and what is that?”
What have you learned from living with MS?
I may have MS, but it doesn’t have me. I am not the disease. I am not MS. I’ve also learned that I have tons of resources thanks to the MS Society and that the only thing I have absolute control over is my attitude. I'm enjoying life and making the most of it.
Do you have advice for someone who is newly diagnosed?
My message is to get on a disease-modifying drug treatment ASAP. Know that there is help available through MS Society, get into the newly diagnosed group and don't despair.
How are you moving us closer to a world free of MS?
I help out whenever I can. When my neurologist asks me to do something I do it. For example I’ve participated in studies at the University of Minnesota, MS Center. I fully take advantage of and fully embrace all of the tools that are offered in order to live independently and I proudly walk with a walker.
What do you enjoy most about being involved in the MS movement?
I personally believe that for me, my diagnosis was not the end of my world, it was the beginning, because I am able to be a contributing member of society. I enjoy the opportunity to educate people in the mainstream of society about MS. Educating others and helping wherever and whenever I can gives me the opportunity to give back and help the society that helps me. I mean that from the bottom of my heart.