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Meet the 2016 Manitoba MS Walk Ambassador

Meet your 2016 Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries
MS Walk Ambassador: Barb Van Walleghem!

When I was first diagnosed with MS, I was very sad and had many questions about what the future would hold. I wanted to learn as much as I could about the disease. After the initial shock wore off, I was glad in a strange sort of way, because it answered many questions for me about what was happening in my body.

Now, I have come to accept that I have MS and I try to live my life one day at a time. I am very open about my MS, because I don’t want to live with secrets, and I believe that it explains why I may not be able to do something or why I may have to cancel something at the last minute. I can’t control whether people accept this or understand. What matters to me is that I have done the best that I can in each situation.

I am proud of the life my husband and I have built together. We have a beautiful 14-year-old daughter, a lovely home and family life, and a fun-loving Shiz Tzu named Max. And, I am proud of my career as a teacher, and that I can continue to work fulltime, despite MS.

That doesn’t mean it is easy. The impact of my MS on my family has been quite difficult. My social life in particular has suffered, because I experience an overwhelming level of fatigue, and because my treatments give me flu-like symptoms. During the week, I am usually in bed by 7:00 PM. I have to rely on my husband, and my daughter’s friends’ parents, to help her fulfil her commitments. I inject my treatment on Friday nights, and I am home-bound until the symptoms I experience from those treatments wear off. While this prevents me from joining my friends and family during that time, if I didn’t sacrifice part of my personal life, I wouldn’t be able to keep teaching.

Learning to live with MS is an ongoing struggle and I have been successful by practicing flexibility and making changes to accommodate the realities of living with MS. It isn’t only me who has to do this, my family does as well. I do not want MS to take away my happiness or my family’s, so together, we make changes so that we can enjoy family time together, and when the “big” things come our way, we can deal with them in a positive way.

The 2016 MS Walk will be my 7th time participating. I believe strongly in the power of people working together towards a common goal. The MS Walk is a celebration of all our efforts! I believe research is the key to finding a cure for MS, so I participate to fund research so that one day, a cure will be found. And in the meantime, until we find a cure, I participate to support other people living with MS.

Together, we will end MS. Please join me as I walk to end MS in Manitoba in May.

Register and raise funds for the MS Walk at mswalks.ca

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