MS is not the end of life, it’s a change of life

Meet Ashley Huard
Three-and-a-half years ago on Christmas eve, I woke up in the morning without any feeling from my neck down to my toes.
I had a friend drive me to the emergency room where the doctor gave me a CT scan, which showed nothing. I was connected with a neurologist who came in on Christmas day to diagnose me.
Rewind to January of that same year, the year of my 30th birthday. I delivered my baby six weeks early. On April 20, Easter, our home burned to the ground. Then finally at Christmas my whole world was further shaken with this diagnosis of multiple Sclerosis.
Merry Christmas to me.
To say the least, it was a year to remember. The following year after my diagnosis I lost all of the feeling in both of my arms and hands – it was really scary to not feel pain or anything for that matter.
I wasn’t prepared to give up, my children mean the world to me and I wanted them to know that life is worth fighting for. Running out of options I started a stem cell treatment journey, which involved flying to Panama to try donated stem cells. This changed my world suddenly and I could feel my arms again.
Unfortunately the effects only lasted for four months. I was sad and frustrated that this disease was winning again – I was losing and anyone who knows me knows that I hate losing. Then a family member who works in the healthcare field, and lives in Colorado, found out about bone marrow derived stem cells treatment using of your own marrow.
So far I have been to Colorado to have this extremely painful procedure four times and I have halted the progression of my disease. Now I have a fighting chance. I still have to be careful with temperatures, my body now lacks the ability to withstand heat, but I am 75 per cent better than I was. I guess you can say that I live in the right climate region to help deal with my form of MS.
Every person who has MS is different. Like snowflakes, no two of us are the same. That’s what makes this disease very difficult to diagnose, treat or handle. Since MS was brought to my family, our world has changed. No longer can I do all the things I used to be able to do. My mother told me something that keeps me going, she said “this is not the end of your life! Its a change of life!”
This is the motto I live by. I have to be strong for myself and for my family, I am NOT in this alone.  Without their support I would not be able to continue this fight the way I am.
One of the hardest thing I have had to deal with is people who do not understand this disease and how sometimes I don’t “look sick” at all. Please don’t judge a book by its cover. You never know someone’s struggle, you can’t see pain and many of us MS sufferers can be really good at pretending that everything is normal. No one ever wants to be sick, but how you deal with it shows what kind of a person you are.
I will forever be grateful for everyone and everything in my life, its who and what keeps me going. I would also like to say that I love you Alex Dawson, the father of my children, and someone who I’ve known since I was me without MS. I will beat this. To anyone dealing with MS in some way, keep fighting.
You are who you are and MS will NEVER change that!
The Prince George MS Walk is scheduled for 11 a.m. May 27 at the Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park pavilion. You can get more information or register here.