In continuation of our Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month blog series, VPR POP would like to introduce you to MS Ambassador Lauren Newton.
Tell us a little about yourself, Lauren.
I am a native of Washington, D.C. When I was born, an oak tree was planted in front of our house. Our nation’s capital can experience severe weather at times — thunderstorms, ice storms, and an occasional hurricane. My tree has weathered many storms over the years as a result of the strong roots it has developed. It is no coincidence that I compare myself to that oak tree, which is still standing in front of the home today. Multiple Sclerosis is my storm and, like the mighty oak tree, I too now have a solid foundation to help me weather my storm. A large part of my solid foundation is my wonderful, loving and supportive group of friends and family, which consists of my husband, our three children, my mother-in-law and three sisters.
What do you do in your spare time?
I grew up with parents who loved to travel, spend time with family and friends and most of all loved to party. My house was the place to be. I too enjoy an active and adventurous life — traveling to various countries throughout the world.
In my spare time, I enjoy yoga, crocheting, walking my sister’s dog Sallie and continuing to travel.
Please tell us your diagnosis story.
I was diagnosed with Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis – the most common type – on January 22, 2013 at the age of 51. My symptoms were severe numbness in my lower extremities and difficulty with walking and balance. I was a mere six months into a new career that I loved when I was diagnosed. You would think that after receiving such a diagnosis, I would have been devastated. However, after 12 years of physicians’ visits, tests and medications with no or inaccurate answers, this diagnosis gave validation to all of my issues.
What is life like today with Multiple Sclerosis?
There are days where I experience difficulty walking and my balance is off. This can make my life a challenge. Despite the challenges, I try to maintain a great attitude in order to stay motivated and keep doing the things I want and need to do daily. MS can be a difficult and challenging autoimmune disease at times; however, maintaining a positive attitude can make a big difference. I have MS, but MS doesn’t have me.
How did you become an Ambassador?
I became an Ambassador by attending several of the programs offered by Genzyme and interviewing with VPR POP. I enjoy being an Ambassador because it allows me the opportunity to meet and share my story with others who have MS and encourage them to be strong and stay positive.
My most memorable program was the evening I spoke at an event and was sharing the theme of my presentation — which is “storms make oak trees take roots”. When the program ended, a participant took off her oak leaf pin and earrings and gave them to me. I tried to refuse, but she insisted I take them. She told me she was extremely moved by my speech and she wanted me to remember her.
Thank you for sharing your inspiring story with us, Lauren!