GREAT FALLS – May 30 is World Multiple Sclerosis Day. M.S., or multiple sclerosis, is an unpredictable and often debilitating disease that affects the central nervous system.
One Great Falls woman shared her M.S. journey with MTN, saying, “August 23. I remember the date.” 46-year-old Zoe Maclay was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis four years ago.
“They say stress can be a trigger for relapses,” she said. She had experienced a burning tingling in her fingers and cold numbing in her feet. “It made it difficult to walk,” she added, “difficult to drive.”
But this wasn’t the first time Maclay had noticed symptoms.
“I would get up and just fall down, and it was scary,” she said. Maclay was originally misdiagnosed in her late teens.
“It mimics a plethora of different disorders, diseases, ailments,” she said, which left her without the right treatment for 24 years. “It had full reign to run havoc, and it did.”
Since receiving her M.S. diagnosis, Maclay’s symptoms have improved slowly with the right medication and a healthy diet, a process she described as “approaching my M.S. with more of a holistic approach — of let’s heal this.”
Maclay continues exercising as much as she can, preparing her body for any changes to come while embracing what she’s still able to accomplish.
“I think back to when I could [exercise with] just an 18-inch box,” she said. “And now I’m stepping up on 3 inches. But that 3 inches is huge for me.”
She said any future adjustments won’t keep her down.
“If I end up in a wheelchair, that is just going to be part of the story, like it’s not going to stop me.”
Multiple sclerosis has also taught Maclay about unconditional love.
“The ones that […] put up with my idiosyncrasies because of M.S. love me through that, love me because of that, love me with that,” she said. There is still no cure for her type of M.S. which causes relapses and remissions more often than other variations of the disease.
“Everyday is different. Every hour is different,” she said.
But her M.S. community is already seeing advancements when diagnosing the disease in young adults that gives them a fighting chance before it can progress.
“They’re softball players, they’re military guys and girls, and they can keep doing those things and have a much better fighting chance to not have to have it progress.”
Until a cure or treatment to prolong remission is developed, and even after, Zoe plans to continue advocating for her M.S. community while sharing her journey.
“I want to scream from the mountain tops for those that don’t necessarily or want to or can,” she said.
To learn more about World M.S. Day, click here.
Reporting by Keeley Van Middendorp for MTN News