I am so much more than my body

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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.'
 My Service Dog Stanly on the Beach

Nora Cherubini poses with Stanley, her service dog, during a beach walk. (Photos courtesy of Nora Cherubini)

Day 18 of 31

This is Nora Cherubini’s story:

“Thank God it’s not MS … because you would wind up in a wheelchair.”

This is what a neurologist told me after I developed sixth nerve palsy, with a slight facial droop on one side and a left eye that only moved to the right, causing double vision. This “stroke” at age 20 resulted in an MRI scan showing two spots on my brain.

Cherubini enjoying an outing with her husband and Stanley.

It took nine months to go away. Over the years, when sick or under extreme stress, it would temporarily reoccur. 

I would find out 15 years later that I never had a stroke.

I was lucky enough to have mental health treatment, as well as enriching activities like figure skating, which I went on to compete in and teach. In my early 30s, I became a single mother with a full-time job requiring frequent travel, on top of school plays, sports, and so much homework!

Before long, I remarried the kindest person and became a stepmom. But a persistent feeling of pins and needles in my left leg soon began. When some falls started, figure skating helped me to hone an excellent skill: falling without injuring myself. When I was unable to pick my left foot up, I finally met with an MS specialist. He acknowledged that something was neurologically wrong, but after a brain MRI and numerous blood tests, he also confirmed I did not have MS.

Cherubini using her “fabulous walker” on a trip to a nature park.

A referral led to another MRI, the first of my spine. This neurologist told me MS can include spinal lesions, he suspected that was my case, and he speculated where the lesions were based on a physical exam. The MRI showed he was right.

For almost a decade, I developed new lesions until things stalled. I’ve progressed to secondary progressive MS, which is like my greatest “MS Hits” being played on heavy rotation.

I’ve been living with MS for 30 years, but only knew it for half of that time. I worked for years until recently, and can no longer drive. I use a stylish cane or my fabulous walker every day.

While there is grief at the loss, I’m happy and thankful for my life. I make the best of things. It is a choice I’ve been making every day for decades. 

I’ve even taken time to apologize to my body for thinking it wasn’t good enough. My body is not me. I am so much more than my body. And I’m still going to wring every ounce of fun out of this life despite MS. 

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.