Coping with the physical and psychological consequences of a multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis can be tough, but there is no doubt you can achieve your dreams if you put your mind to it! In this article, we are going to take a look at the inspirational stories of two people who have accepted their chronic conditions and gone on to accomplish incredible goals. We hope this will motivate you to do the same.
Telma has come a long way since her diagnosis. After MS prompted a career change, she now dedicates much of her free time to her family, bodybuilding and supporting the MS community. And with TV and radio appearances under his belt, read on to learn how Parkinson’s disease hasn’t stopped Matt from achieving success!
Diagnosed at 32, Telma has been living with relapsing-remitting MS since July 2015. At the time of her diagnosis, she lacked information and admits that she found it very difficult to handle the emotional and physical demands of MS. But now she’s thriving. Making the most of every day and living a life which she can define as normal.
Needing something to take her mind off MS, she started to exercise more regularly and take better care of her health. Challenging herself physically, she has since taken up boxing and started going to the gym.
To avoid the frustration of not meeting her goals, Telma set two long-term targets when she was diagnosed – to lose weight and take up more sports. Having already achieved these, she’s now committing more time to bodybuilding and learning English.
Since being diagnosed with MS, Telma has had moments when she’s feared being unable to walk or has felt overcome by depression. But she can’t deny that MS has also brought many joys.
It has gifted her the opportunity to participate in MS related events and campaigns, meeting other “amazing” people with MS. It is through attending these events which has resulted in a family trip to London, which she describes as the best experience she’s had since her diagnosis.
But with so much going on, how does she keep motivated?
Telma admits that it’s not easy. It requires self-discipline and the drive from friends. But her greatest incentive is undoubtedly her daughter.
“She is my greatest motivation. In the gym, they have a room for the kids to play and she loves it. She compels me to go to the gym.”
When asked how it feels to overcome the hurdles inflicted by MS and succeed beyond expectations, Telma replied with this:
“I just feel alive. I could write a thousand and one words to describe how I feel, but the truth is that I feel alive and nothing else matters.”
Living with MS is never going to be easy. But Telma has found a way to balance the demands of MS with her work and family life. She listens to her body, resting when she feels fatigued.
“When fatigue attacks, I have to rest. I try to not let it get me down mentally and then as soon as I gain a little more strength, I start to do what I like most again – physical exercise.”
Acceptance is important when it comes to chronic disease. And it’s the first piece of advice Telma would give to newly diagnosed MS patients.
“It’s not worth pretending it doesn’t exist. People should set goals to achieve, however small they may be. And try to fulfil their dreams.”
Matt Eagles was 7 years old when he first noticed symptoms, but it wasn’t until he reached adulthood that he could officially say he had Parkinson’s disease. Here we take a look at Matt’s extraordinary story.
A Positivity Activist and Head of Patient Engagement at an advertising agency, 50-year-old Matt doesn’t believe that his condition has influenced his chosen career path and is now flourishing in a profession he loves.
With multiple TV and Radio appearances, Matt is somewhat a celebrity of the Parkinson’s community! He dedicates much of his time to talking about his experiences, spreading positivity and motivating others in similar situations.
It has only been since his deep brain stimulation surgery in 2006 that he’s been able to take up photography, starting with wildlife shots snapped on a trip to Namibia. On return from his travels, Matt began taking photos at local football games and has since been invited to photograph for the Kaiser Chiefs and at the London 2012 Olympic Games – a moment which he describes as the pinnacle of his career!
Another proud occasion for Matt was chairing the “Eye for Pharma Patient Summit Europe” conference. He received a standing ovation – an accomplishment which he said brought tears to his eyes. He enjoys hosting panels and focus groups too, all of which he finds immensely satisfying.
Matt understands that some of the opportunities he’s had over the years wouldn’t have happened if he didn’t have Parkinson’s. “I’ve had so many good memories. Parkinson’s, and just by being myself, has opened doors for me that wouldn’t have even been there!”
One example of this was receiving an invitation to Mike Tindall’s celebrity golf event at the Belfry. He ended up playing golf with the Queen’s grandson and met one of his idols, F1 racer Nigel Mansell. In his own words:
“I’m not saying that Parkinson’s is a whole world of fun. But it can be sometimes.”
However, Matt recognises how crucial it is to be honest and realistic when speaking at events. Aside from positivity, he reminds his audience that Parkinson’s is something he lives with every day and as with all chronic conditions, there are low points.
He spoke openly to us about his experiences with gambling and self-harm – mental health problems caused by his Parkinson’s. But despite Parkinson’s dark side, Matt is continuing to live his best life. He’s fascinated by snakes and would one day like to travel to the Pantanal in Brazil.
When asked what advice he would give to others living with chronic conditions, he said to:
“Never compare yourself to others or be afraid to make mistakes. There are a lot of people out there who will help pick you up again – physically and metaphorically speaking.”
Matt is confident that you only find your full potential if you’re willing to try new things and aren’t afraid of failure, as only then you can find out what you’re really capable of.
You can do the same!
Telma and Matt are great examples of people living the best lives they can. They are proof that you can achieve the things in life which are most important to you, when you reset your expectations on what is possible.
All you have to do is start. Start by setting yourself small goals and slowly build them up as you work towards and accomplish them. With each triumph, your confidence will grow.
Who knows what you can do!
Now it’s your turn! If you’ve been inspired, challenge your perceptions of MS or take on a ‘Dare’ in our game of Truth or Dare.