The Reflection of Me: A Daughter’s Tribute in the Face of MS

Teresa Wright-Johnson avatar

by Teresa Wright-Johnson |

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parents and disease

The journey of chronic illness has taught me that our families are greatly affected by our illnesses. Spouses, parents, siblings, and many others can attest to their personal stories of loving someone who is chronically ill. My inspiration for this week’s column was a discussion I recently had with my parents.

My husband and I visited with my parents after an appointment. I walked inside and headed straight to my favorite chair. The intense heat had taken a toll on me and I was in more pain than usual. I should mention that added to my fashionable ensemble was my walking stick gifted to me by my dear friend. That topic will be revisited in a future column.

Moving along, I lay across the chair and began having a conversation. My parents are saddened by the difficulties that I am experiencing. They reiterate that I am a survivor and constantly tell me I am going to be all right.

At times, I feel as though my parents are in denial about my MS disease. They know the basics and that is it. Neither of them has researched the disease, and sometimes that saddens me. It feels as if the proclamation “you’re going to be all right” dismisses my current condition. I shared my sentiment. My parents’ responses were “we have faith” and “we believe that our prayers will be answered.”

Of course, I wanted to delve further into this discussion but I was too exhausted to do so. I abandoned the conversation by telling my parents to believe as they must. I declared that I have faith, too, yet the current reality is that MS is progressive and incurable. On the way home, my husband and I continued the discussion.

I recall the day I disclosed my MS diagnosis to my parents. It was a day or so after I received the official diagnosis. I wanted to tell them in person and needed to make sure I had enough time to ingest the devastating news I had received. I will never forget the look in their eyes. Tears filled my loving mother’s eyes and her words were, “I wish I could take it for you.”

My loving dad, a man of few words with great strength, said nothing. He looked above for a second, yet his eyes revealed his truth. My parents were devastated. They were afraid. They were in shock. They assured me that we were in this together and that I was going to be OK.

It was important for me to reflect on this day because I realize that my parents had been in the same situation on multiple occasions with my siblings and me. Those moments in which their children or physicians revealed both life-changing and terminal illnesses. Instances in which their hearts broke into a million pieces yet they held it together. The moment when their parental instinct kicked in and they anchored us. They prepared to carry each of us through our storms while simultaneously surviving their own.

I thought of all the private conversations my parents must have had with each other and the millions of tears they cried. I cannot stop thinking of the unyielding prayers sent on our behalf. My mind cannot comprehend the weight of witnessing your children battle disease and all that comes with it, knowing that protecting them is out of your realm. The agonizing realization that all you can provide is love, encouragement, understanding, and a multitude of prayers.

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Denial can be deceptive. It can be both a burden and a gift. I now comprehend that in some cases, people operate from a space of denial in order to preserve their mental health. I also recognize that what feels like denial to me may be faith and positive thinking at its finest.

The biblical definition of faith is the assurance of things hoped for yet not seen. The exchange with my parents and the discussion with my husband opened my eyes. My parents must believe in and hope for the best-case scenario in order to preserve their mental health and to encourage me. It is imperative to maintain faith.

Reminiscing over my life revealed that it was the positive outlook and unyielding faith of my parents that set the foundation for who I am today. They taught me the meaning of perseverance. Each time I stare into my their eyes, I see the reflection of me. Strong, vulnerable, courageous, afraid, hopeful, and human. They were, and remain, the wind beneath my wings.

To the parents of children with chronic illness, you are applauded and appreciated. Thanks for encouraging your children. You are our strength in weakness, our light in darkness, and the rainbow in every cloud. Keep believing and keep the faith. At times, we need the reminder.

“Did you ever know that you’re my hero, and everything I’d like to be. I could fly higher than an eagle, for you are the wind beneath my wings.” –Bette Midler, “Wind Beneath My Wings”

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Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Regina Alfonso avatar

Regina Alfonso

Both my daughter and her husband have MS. They received their diagnosis 4 years apart. Their children are 4 and 2. I am 73 years old. I wish I were 10 years younger so I could continue being the "wind beneath their wings" for more years.
They are both incredible parents with positive attitudes about their condition. There is no time for victimization. We all live day by day hiding the fear of relapses. 13 days ago my husband had a quintuple coronary bypass. My children took turns in staying by our side, paying back for our unwavering support to them.

We are ready for battle in a daily basis.

Teresa Wright-Johnson avatar

Teresa Wright-Johnson

Hi Regina,
Thank you for sharing. Sending warm wishes for strength and healing to your entire family. I totally agree that a positive attitude is important, although we are allowed to have bad days and moments. I understand the fear and I applaud your courage. From your description, your daughter and son in law epitomize the sentiment of this column. The strength of parents to remain strong and hopeful for their children in spite of adversity. Regina you are in my thoughts.

LaQuita Davis avatar

LaQuita Davis

My thoughts and prayers are with your dagther
I have 2 kids ages 3&6 I'm going to have to pray harder that this demon of Multiple sclerosis don't attack their bodies.

Mary avatar


Thank you. My daughter was diagnosed with MS two years ago -- at age 17. Devastating yes. But she is strong. Prayers and positive thinking are necessary for both of us while not ignoring what is going on.

Matthew avatar


I will receive tysabri #70 next week. I am 66 years old my 33 year old daughter has received tysabri #5. I have 3 younger sisters that have lived with this disease for decades. One died 16 years ago at age 48 and one died 12 years ago at age 51. I was with both of them the night they passed away. My 94 year old parents are watching this with great sadness. 13 of their 35 grandchildren are receiving DMT’s for MS. Researchers can fix the disease in lab rats or mice but a real cure seems to elude their research. I feel helpless. I will not surrender and will not die the way my sisters have I simply will not give in. I will not. Thank you for your article your voice Needs to be heard stay strong.

Sandra E avatar

Sandra E

Teresa thank you for sharing your story and having the courage to put to paper your honest thoughts. I am the eyes of a mother that you as a daughter look into. Your fear of the unknow pierces the depest regions of my heart. I have researched and fully understand the power of the beast you battle. Do not mistake my refrain in sharing. My maternal instinct is to shield you as I have done so many times before. Faith, love and reassurance are the foundations I offer you now so that when you are left in this wonderous world without me you remeber and never relinguish your battle. When the gentle breeze careses your face, let it remind you that faith like the breeze is not to be seen but felt.

My daughter is 21, and was diagnosed at 19. I am hear for you till my last breath.

Pauline Phelps avatar

Pauline Phelps

I recommend that anyone with MS should watch a video called 'Living Proof' by Matt Embry. I watched it on Amazon Prime. After Matt was diagnosed with MS 20 years ago his father , Ashton Embry devised a diet and life style changes for his son. Matt has followed this diet and has not had any relapses for 20 years. I tried to follow this diet myself about 15 years ago but unfortunately gave up after about 18 months. Therefore I did have relapses and am now in the secondary progressive stage. I have never taken any disease modifying drugs but do take Low Dose Naltrexone. This slows down the disease progression.

Pauline Phelps avatar

Pauline Phelps

Watch the video by Matt Embry called 'Living Proof' on Amazon Prime.
When he was diagnosed with MS 20 years ago and
after hours of scientific research, his father devised a diet and change of lifestyle for his son. Matt has followed this diet, has not had any relapses and has lived a normal life for 20 years. He has a website MS


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