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Elizabeth Rice-Reynolds, Scholar

The Greater Northwest Chapter works to improve the quality of life for people affected by MS in Alaska, Northern Idaho, Montana and Washington and raise funds for critical MS research. Join the movement toward a world free of MS.

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Elizabeth Rice-Reynolds

Elizabeth Rice-ReynoldsMy father was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when I was three months old. I can only imagine the fear that overtook him, knowing that he might not be able to see his children grow up or walk his daughter down the aisle because of his disease. However, my father vowed to do his best to not let what was affecting him affect his children, and now I see the strength that must have taken. I have seen my dad try a variety of treatments and regardless of what he has to do to battle this chronic disease, I have never heard him once complain about the pain he goes through. His strength has shaped me into the person I am today.

Watching my dad struggle with MS has taught me to be empathetic with others. When he found out his diagnosis, he quit a promising job in order to be able to work from home and raise his children. While he was still able to be active, my father coached my brothers' and my soccer teams, baseball teams, and was there for all of my dance recitals. About five years later, a series of MS attacks rendered his feet painfully numb and affected his gait. Knowing this now, it humbles me to be aware of his incredible pain. I've learned that when my dad comes home from work in the evening, he is often annoyed not because of us, but because the amount of pain he is in aggravates everything that he does. I have learned to not be hurt because of this, and to remember what he is going through. Because of this, I reach out to peers who I might not ordinarily, for I have no idea what they might be going through and how much listening to them might help. In a world where empathy is dying, I try hard to remember that there are other people with situations more difficult than mine.

One of the things that has affected my outlook on life the most was a sacrifice my father made for me years ago. My dad used to teach roller skating, and when I was young he used to take me skating. When I was in sixth grade, there was a field trip for my class to go roller skating, and I bragged to all my friends about how my father was very gifted at skating. Unknown to me, this was a couple years after the attack that made his feet numb. Regardless, my father came and skated with me the entire night. The next day, my mom told me that my dad, unable to feel anything but a general pain in his feet, had caused one of his toenails to fall off while skating. I am still shocked that, even through all that pain, he skated because he knew how important it was to me. My dad has taught me the power of sacrifice, and that for the ones you love, no sacrifice is too big. He never let any struggles he faced affect his work or family. He pushed through for us.

Ultimately, MS has affected my life by showing me that strength can be found in all sorts of ways. I have learned strength from my father's sacrifice, from my mother's understanding, and from the unique challenges that I have faced due to my father's disease. It is hard to see someone you love face difficult realities. It has been almost impossible to pretend that I don't see my dad’s difficulties, especially with his MS getting worse as he ages. However, I know that it would break his heart if l showed him how it scares me, so I have learned to be strong as well. I know that I am a different person because of how MS has affected our family. I also know that whatever issues might come my way in the future, I will face them with the same strength that my father has shown every day of his life.

GOALS/ASPIRATIONS

After high school, I am interested in going into the field of molecular cytogenetics, which is the study of the human genome as it relates to diseases at the molecular level. I believe that I have the potential, by researching genetics, to discover causes and possibly cure diseases and disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis, which affects my father. This has been a passion of mine from a young age, for seeing my father suffer, and knowing that there were so many others who have gone through tougher battles than his, pushes me to discover answers for everyone affected by this debilitating disease. I am also passionate about helping people, and I believe through research I could help countless families who struggle with the burden of a family member with a hereditary disease. My ultimate goal is to get my PhD in genetic research, for I believe that this degree would be the most beneficial for me to get my own laboratory, and to begin research.

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