Elizabeth's Story

We've heard some remarkable stories during this month's MS4MS campaign, and today we're adding to the list. Meet Elizabeth Persons. She's a runner, mountain biker, hiker and athlete who moved to Colorado to enjoy all our state has to offer. When she was diagnosed with MS, it looked like all that came to an abrupt end.

Fastforward a couple of years, and she's turned that end to a whole new beginning. She shared her story with us this week, shortly after summitting Mt. Huron (14,003 ft.) with Team Zoom.

Take a look:

MS4MS Team Zoom web

Team Zoom with Elizabeth Parsons (far right, middle) atop Mt. Huron.

My first symptom of left arm numbness began in April 2012.

I was concerned but dismissed it as a pinched nerve. The numbness I briefly felt in my leg was my paranoid imagination, the crushing fatigue my thyroid. Like many other MS patients the pre-diagnosis symptoms were easily brushed off.

Eight months later I decided to see a neurologist who misdiagnosed it and instructed me to give it six months. A month later I experienced complete left side numbness.

Fearing a stroke, I went to the ER where a preliminary diagnosis of MS was given. Alone and in shock I wanted to curl up and die as I sat there waiting for the discharge paperwork.

I've always considered myself strong, healthy and independent. Suddenly I was none of these. 

Six weeks later, I had an exacerbation that brought cognitive impairments. I was grateful to have a patient and understanding boss, but I was in a management position and expected to perform at a certain level.

I was faced with two options: resign from my position, or take a six week sick leave and return at 100 percent or get fired.

At that point simple tasks like writing my name and address were difficult; attempting the self-checkout at the grocery store overwhelming. And so I resigned.

I had always been active and competitive. Running marathons, hiking mountains and biking were what brought me to Colorado. Suddenly they became so hard, and more work than fun. Unable to keep up with my hiking friends, they went on without me. Depression quickly set in and I retreated within, barely leaving the house.

It was shortly after this that I stumbled across the MS 101 class. Although I had done a lot of research on my own and didn't expect to learn anything, I went. I learned more in that class than in all my reading and research. Suddenly I had real knowledge and hope.

I knew I had to get to the Rocky Mountain Multiple Sclerosis Center (RMMSC).

I've been a patient at the Center for just over a year. When I came to them I was unemployed, not active and frightened of the future. Today I'm back working, running and hiking -- albeit a lot slower. The care and encouragement I receive there have helped me recalibrate and move forward as the new me.

I am so grateful to be part of the RMMSC family. Together we truly are stronger!

Elizabeth and so many other MS4MS participants exemplify what this program is all about -- it's not just raising money and awareness for a cause, but showing exactly what can be done with determination, perseverance and patience.

Congratulations Elizabeth, Team Zoom and all our MS4MS summit teams!