|SALLY, ON THE BRIDGE AT BIKE MS: BIKE TO THE BAY IN 2015
I Ride With MS: Sally
BY: KERRY MCKENZIE
There was something wrong with her eyes. It was January 2003, and Sally had just gotten new contact lenses. She hoped it wasn’t anything more than a problem with her contacts, but she went to the doctor anyway. They told her she had optic neuritis. They even brought up MS. But then the issue went away, and she pushed it to the back of her mind.
A little less than a year later, her eye problems returned. She went back to the doctor, and this time they confirmed it; Sally was diagnosed with MS.
“My close family and friends knew but I didn’t make it public at work,” she said. “I didn’t want anyone to look at me differently, or treat me differently, or think I was less competent or capable from a physical perspective.”
For the next three years, Sally kept her diagnosis private. It wasn’t until recently that she started to be more open.
“The disease is like perfume. It smells different on everybody,” Sally said. “So everybody’s experience with the disease is going to be different. And I wanted to let people know that I have it, and I’m living with it. I’m living well with it. I ride Bike MS.”
Sally got involved with Bike MS three years ago. She was always a cyclist, but never serious about it. Then her partner, Keith, brought up doing Bike MS: City to Shore
. He rode in City to Shore in 2013, while Sally volunteered. Stationed at a rest stop helping people, she was determined to ride the following year.
|SALLY WITH HER TEAM FROM AIR PRODUCTS AND CHEMICALS
“My goal the first year in 2014 was just to make it,” Sally said. “In 2015 [at Bike to the Bay
], my goal was to keep up with the group of riders I was with. I did well the first day, and I was so proud of myself. Day two was a different story. The wind was awful, and I fell off from the group a bit. But Keith — my partner — actually came for me, put his hand on my back and literally pushed me back up with our group. That was a rough day but the stronger guys did a great job leading us to the finish line. We really had a great group and awesome team camaraderie.”
Sally, in a big turnaround from her earlier years of living with MS, rides on a team with her co-workers at Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. When she sends out emails telling people she’s riding again, she gives them a heartfelt thank you. Sally recently switched medications and went from giving herself a shot three times a week to taking an oral medication.
She tells them, “I get to take this drug which is a better treatment for my disease. And it’s because of the contributions from people like you.”
Sally believes that cycling is an important addition to her MS treatment. It’s a great way to exercise, and the impact on her body is minimal.
“I think it’s important for me as someone who has the ability to ride and has the disease to get out there and help support the cause,” Sally said. “[I want] to help others as much as possible, because I could be in their shoes one day.”
Overall, Sally is very hopeful for the future. When she looks at the progress that’s been made since she was diagnosed, she can’t even imagine all the advances the future holds.
“Right now, I can say that I’m one of the fortunate people that are fairly non-symptomatic,” Sally said, as she gave her desk a knock for good measure. “Don’t feel sorry for me because I have MS. Look at all I can do — and oh, by the way — it’s just one of the things that is a part of who I am.
Anyone living with MS who is interested in cycling to support the MS movement can join the program, enjoy special day-of-event benefits and receive a complimentary “I Ride with MS” jersey. Genzyme and MS One to One, and Primal Wear are proud supporters of the I Ride with MS program, available through all 100 Bike MS events nationwide.
I Ride with MS participants are not only committed to cycling to create a world free of MS, but to increasing awareness. For more information or to register for the program, visit BikeMS.org
and click on “I Ride with MS.”
This article was originally published in the MS Connection Newsletter - 2016 Issue 2.