Ranva Gooden: You Can Still Do What You Want With MS
After moving to California in her mid-20s, Ranva Gooden was in the midst of her career. With a master’s degree in Human Resource Management and her mind set in becoming one of the best in her field, Ranva’s career quickly came to a halt. At the age of 29, she was young, active and ready to take the world by storm, but when a routine eye checkup became the longest 48 hrs of her life, she began to learn more about herself.
While living out in California, Ranva began having some pain in her left eye and would occasionally place a hot pad or a warm cloth to ease the pain. As a week went on and her vision became more impaired, it was time to see a doctor. What she thought would be a routine eye exam and a prescription for eye drops became a two day period of worrying. As her doctor instructed her to read an eye chart with her left eye closed, Ranva could see perfectly. When trying to read the chart with her right eye closed, it was as if the lights had been turned off in the room. She was referred to the E.R. to receive an MRI and was taken to see an ophthalmologist. This was her first time hearing that she could have symptoms of MS.
The ophthalmologist referred her to a neurologist who confirmed that she did in fact have multiple sclerosis. At the time, Ranva did not know about MS. It was something that she had heard of, but had never directly affected her in anyway. After making a phone call to her mother, her mother immediately flew from South Carolina out to California to care for her daughter. With Ranva under medication and going through her first treatments, it was comforting to have her mother was there to do the research, find out better ways to adjust to her daily activities and discover places where she could have the proper MS testing done. “My mother has been a great care partner. She will tell people ‘We have MS’,” says Ranva.
Now living in Columbia, SC, Ranva and her mother have become major contributors to the Greater Carolinas Chapter in the Columbia area. While raising money through fundraisers and attending the Columbia Walk MS event every year, Ranva’s mother has become one of the facilitators for the caregivers for the African Americans Living with MS Conference this year. She also helped start Ranva’s first support group after two years of living back in South Carolina.
Even after having to make adjusments to her career, her daily activities and the hot humid weather of South Carolina, Ranva would never say anything negative about MS. “I realized it was the best thing that could of ever happened to me. It was like my coming out stage. I became more talkative and I became an MS advocate overnight. I wanted people to know more, because there is so much more to a person than MS,” she says.
Now 36, Ranva has now been able to put a lot of pieces together from her previous years before MS. Going through high school with headaches so bad she would sometimes cry herself to sleep and wondering why she would have so much fatigue after a workout compared to others, they were finally answered after her diagnosis. She works as an administrator for a local church and is a constant MS advocate for the Greater Carolinas Chapter, Ranva will always keep moving.
“People think when they are diagnosed with MS their whole life ends. You can keep moving; you can keep going with MS. You might have to change the way you do things, but you can still do the things you love.”