Multiple Sclerosis Centers of Excellence
Perseverance, Overcoming the Odds, and Resiliency
Stephen Glaus -- Elizabethtown, PA
There are plenty of stories out there based on the premise of perseverance, overcoming the odds, and resiliency. Before I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, I always admired those who, despite all the obstacles, overcame hardship and found victory instead.
Until recently, I wondered if life would ever give me the chance to test my character, entrench me deep into near certain defeat, only to conquer the challenge and rise as a champion. I didn’t have to wait long for the challenger to appear. Sure, I had served in the Army, deployed to Iraq as a solider and then once more to Afghanistan as a civilian contractor. The grueling grind of life overseas, in a desolate and tumultuous environment was tough. Little did I know that a conflict inside my own body would manifest itself as the great Goliath I had pondered facing.
In July of 2018, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. A war was waging in my mind and body, and I became host and witness to the progression of an unrelenting onslaught of neurological atrophy. Functions that I had ordinarily assumed to have unabating control of seemed to mock me with their newfound mental strain. Seeing, walking, and even controlling my bladder became immovable mountains that I could barely climb. My strong and formidable physique - the one I had once entrusted with confident familiarity – was stricken lame, unrecognizably feeble and frail.
In the depths of my despair, I stumbled upon a new hope, a new ambition, and a new purpose for my life. Whether it was good fortune, fate, or mere coincidence, I came into contact with a man who walked the road set before me; he had conquered the Goliath standing in my way. David Lyons, the founder of the MS Fitness Challenge (MSFC), was a bodybuilder and master trainer who overcame the odds, and proved to the world that MS, while still inextinguishable (at least for now), is a disease that can be tamed and reigned in. He inspired me to get involved with his charity, and help others, like myself, fraught with the fear and anxiety that typically correspond to MS.
Within a few months I had become certified as a personal trainer with a special MS certification. I’ve since started training people with MS in my local area and am working with David to expand the MSFC and make it more accessible to people with MS all around the world. My battle with MS is unrelenting. I’m fortunate to have a great care team through the VA as well as a local hospital, afforded to me through the VA Choice program. There are some days when I question if I really need my semi-annual Rituxan infusion, but sure enough, MS strikes swiftly, and I’ve stumbled with two relapses since my diagnosis. I’m currently training for an IRONMAN triathlon in September of 2020. It sounds impossible, I know. But as the Army taught me, I will never quit, I will never surrender, and I will never give up on myself.
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