Smashing my running goals, even after a diagnosis of MS

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by BioNews Staff |

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Four photos showing individuals with multiple sclerosis who are sharing their real-life stories during MS Awareness Month this March are hung with clips on a string above the words 'MS Community Spotlight.'
A woman in an orange sports bra and black shorts smiles while running down a road amid a group of other runners. She has a white tag attached to her front that displays her name, Beth, and marathon ID number.

Bethany Carman runs her first 10K at the Mornington Running Festival in Australia. (Photos courtesy of Bethany Carman)

Day 4 of 31

This is Bethany Carman’s story:

Hello, I’m Beth. I’m 30 years old, based in Melbourne, Australia, and I was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2017.

A woman in a black sports bra, black shorts, and blue baseball cap stands on a wooden platform that overlooks an Australian beach. The platform is shaded, as it's surrounded by trees.

Carman runs even while on vacation in Noosa, Australia.

My journey to diagnosis was unexpected and took everyone I knew by surprise. During a competitive game of Frisbee turned baseball with friends on a hot summer evening, I tackled my husband, Marcus, head-on, resulting in me splitting my head open and going to the hospital, where I ended up with six stitches.

Over the next month, I started losing vision in my right eye. Initially, it occurred when I was hot, or when I was working a night shift, but then it rapidly worsened until I became colorblind in one eye and had diminished depth perception. What we initially thought was severe head trauma turned out to be the first sign of MS: optic neuritis.

Receiving the news was shocking. I don’t think anything can fully prepare you for an MS diagnosis, even if you see it coming. In seconds, I went from thinking I was a healthy 24-year-old to having a lifelong illness. It was a lot to process, but after overcoming the initial shock and grieving for my younger, healthier self, I emerged ready to conquer my goals.

In 2021, I started running. It was originally a step challenge with my friend that got me hooked. I knew the only way I could win the challenge was by getting more steps in before work, so running it was! But, as you can imagine, mixing running with MS does bring unique challenges.

A woman in sunglasses, a black tank top, and blue shorts smiles while standing on a sandy beach. She appears to be in the middle of a path that leads down to the water, as there are low fences on either side of her, and green shrubs just beyond them. The ocean is visible in the background.

Carman enjoys the Australian summer.

Early in my running journey, I discovered I had foot drop, which isn’t ideal for a runner. But luckily for me, mine tends to only occur with fatigue. Despite being initially told I wouldn’t ever be able to run more than 5 km due to my foot drop, I’ve since completed 5Ks, 10Ks, and even a half-marathon!

While MS has undoubtedly impacted my life negatively, it also has  transformed me into a strong, healthy, and resilient individual ready to tackle any challenge. I never imagined I would be running long distances, but here I am — not just smashing my goals, but doing so with an autoimmune disease.

I can honestly say I’m the happiest I’ve ever been and I am extremely proud of the person I’ve become over the past eight years. I now like to live by the mantra “don’t let anything stop you from doing everything.”

In recognition of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month in March, the MS Community Spotlight campaign features a series of stories highlighting the real-life experiences of people affected by MS, written in their own words. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest for more stories like this, using the hashtag #MSSpotlight, or read the full series.