Obtaining a diagnosis of MS was challenging, yet it doesn’t define me

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by BioNews Staff |

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Five photos showing individuals with multiple sclerosis, who are sharing their real-life stories during MS Awareness Month, are hung with clips on a string above the words 'MS Community Spotlight.'

Faith Agauas takes a stroll by the waterfront. (Photos courtesy of Faith Agauas)

Day 11 of 31

This is Faith Agauas’ story:

My 70 years of life have been an amazing journey. I grew up in Detroit in a neighborhood filled with love and protection, music from Motown, and the smell of amazing cooking. I became the person I am because of that neighborhood.

Every year, Agauas participates in a National MS Society walk. She says she usually comes in “dead last, but that’s OK.” She’s just proud to get out there and do it.

I didn’t plan to be a mom or a wife. I wanted to go to school and be a forensic detective and catch serial killers. I ended up being a divorced, single mom of two working 50 hours a week. Eventually, I went to college to pursue that dream. But by the time I finished, little did I know that I had multiple sclerosis (MS), and my dream to join the police force was denied because I couldn’t pass the physical.

I started to experience changes in my body on a daily basis. I had already survived uterine cancer, and when I went to my primary doctor for tests, nothing came back unusual. I started to have optic neuritis, but still, the doctor said there was no correlation to having MS.

My journey went from specialist to specialist, and they all looked at me like I was making it up. They said it was a female issue, stress, postpartum, there was nothing wrong, and my favorite, “It’s all in your head.”

It took 10 years of not giving up to find an answer to the question I already knew in my gut.

My disease-modifying therapies have ranged from steroids to an injectable, and then to daily pills. I became allergic to all of them and am currently not on any treatment.

During my MS journey, I started to go to educational events with my daughter, who is also my caregiver, and once again, I found my “Woodstock family.” Our community is one of strength, resilience, and courage. We stand together in the best of times and hold strong during the worst.

Agauas, right, shares a bench and some flowers with her daughter and caregiver, Rebecca. Faith calls Rebecca her “rock that keeps me going on hard days and my partner in crime.”

Every year, we do MS walks. I was chosen to be on a patient/caregiver advisory board with my daughter, I’ve written several articles and blog posts for various MS-related organizations, and I was asked to be part of an event with The Moth and Montel Williams.

What would I say to anyone who is newly diagnosed? Never give up and never settle! If you are unhappy with your healthcare team, find one that will go to bat for you. Share your story, connect with those who are just like you, and most importantly, laugh!

My life is full of good and bad, but I wouldn’t change a thing. My MS does not define who I am; it’s just part of what my body has given me. I am a mom, grandma, friend, sister, advocate, and someone who lives her life to the best of her ability. I put both feet on the floor every morning and ask, “What kind of trouble can I get into today?” Then I go out and do it.

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 FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest for more stories like this, using the hashtag #MSSpotlight, or read the full series.