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Madden Shanks, 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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Madden Shanks

My mom has lived with multiple sclerosis for nearly eighteen years. I watch her take her nightly shots to try to minimize her symptoms of pain and fatigue and I watch her push through each day with no complaints. There are good days and bad days, just like with any illness, but now the bad ones tend to outnumber the good ones. With her multiple sclerosis and my dad living with leukemia, my eyes have been opened and it has influenced my outlook on life, my family's financial stability, and my work ethic.

As my parents continue to live life to its fullest capacity, despite their illnesses, they have taught me and my siblings the meaning of the word "persistence.” When life knocks us down, we get up, wipe off the sweat, and we keep going together as a family, stronger than ever before. My mom accepts her MS and doesn't want anyone to feel sorry for her; she wants to show everyone that multiple sclerosis will not stop her. Her fearless attitude has rubbed off on me and I could not be more grateful. I have learned that life is bigger than what I originally thought and that God has a different plan for us than we could have ever imagined. I have learned to accept his plan as the only right one for us as a family.

When my mom experienced her first episode of multiple sclerosis, our family business had recent burnt down; it was the beginning of many hard years for my family. My parents lost their business, I had just been born, my mom was now ill, and because of the financial burden, we were about to lose our home. However, my parents kept their heads down, worked hard, and were supported by family and friends in the community, and they were able to make ends meet. After that, my mom became a special education teacher and my dad began working as a carpenter. Never having any money left over, with two kids in college and me at home, and sometimes deep in debt, they persevered. I think this is because love and support don't require money.

I have seen both my mom and dad exhausted from a hard day's work coupled with the symptoms of their MS and leukemia. However, they always find the strength to get up the next morning and do it all over again. This propels me to help support my family. From hooking up the tractor to the plow, to mowing the lawn, or to just keep my mom and dad company, this helps hold the foundation of our family together.

Multiple sclerosis and cancer have profoundly shaped my view on life and have helped mold me into the person I am today. They have also influenced our financial stability and my work ethic. I know that I will be able to handle whatever Washington State University throws at me, just as my parents handle whatever MS and leukemia throw at them. No matter what life throws at us, we must put our heads down, be humble, and work towards our goals one day at a time.

GOALS/ASPIRATIONS

I am going to be attending Washington State University in the fall of2015. I plan on studying Animal Science with an emphasis on cattle production. I have been a member of Livestock 4-H as well as Horse 4-H for over five years now and I enjoy being involved. Also, growing up on a farm has influenced my future career goals. At first, working with the cattle was a way of spending more time with my dad, but then it grew into a passion. After getting a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science, I have an interest in going to graduate school to become a professor and possibly teach at a university.

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