Breea 19, USA

Embrace change. Embrace life.

The fact that I am improving gives me hope. I am walking again and I can still laugh and love. It also gives me hope that researchers are working hard to find a cure through stem cell research and creating awareness of MS will support this.

My dream was to go away to college, be a collegiate cheerleader and become a photojournalist. Because of my MS I cannot cheer anymore and I had to choose to study 7 hours from home instead of going to my dream college. Becoming a photojournalist didn't seem like the smartest option for my future so I started a course in nursing at university instead.

"Grow from this and choose to live each day fully."Mother

Getting around campus was hard and the stress was a lot for me to take. On October 2nd I experienced my first relapse. A new lesion was found in my brain stem and I am now trying to finish my first semester via online classes from home. My college dreams have been temporarily put on hold but I will not give up and plan to finish my first 2 years at a community college close to home, where my doctors are, and where I can be close to my friends and family for support. I hope to return to a university for my junior year.

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Breea 19, USA

Stay positive, be strong and focus on your dreams.

I was 18 when I was diagnosed with Tumefactive MS and a high school senior. I felt clumsy in the morning and by 6pm that night I was in the emergency room experiencing paralysis in my left arm and left leg, as well as blindness in my left eye.

On the 12th day of being in hospital I was ready to know what was wrong with me and my mum told me that I had MS. I was devastated and kept thinking over and over, ‘Why has this happened to me?’ I felt like life would never be the same and I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to walk or be normal again.

"She became more withdrawn and worried about being judged because of her MS and her challenges with mobility. She is getting much better with this now that she is meeting more people with MS and has the MS Society as her big supporters.’

I would encourage people who have just had their loved ones diagnosed with MS to take the time to care for themselves as well as their loved ones. To remember that this is for them as much as it is their loved one: grow, work hard, learn, love themselves, and give back in ways they never imagined."Mother

I now know that the best way to cope with MS is to stay positive because being down and negative about it isn't going to help me. My perspective has changed in the sense that I am now more educated about MS and more interested in learning about treatments and other young people living with the disease, as well as doing all I can to engage others to support finding a cure for MS.

"Breea doesn't let MS change who she is. She has no choice but to let it change the way that she walks, but her outlook on life and perspective of herself will not be touched. She still acts the same, thinks the same, she's still the same Breea, no disease would have the ability to change that."Friend

When I was first diagnosed I was so unsure about myself – how would things turn out for me? How would I live in this world with MS? I wondered if anyone would want to be my friend, if my boyfriend would still love me or want me, if I could ever have kids, and so much more. Now, knowing I have to live my whole life with MS, I have built myself up to be more confident again and pushed through my fears, learnt as much as I can, and will not allow MS to stop me from living my life and being the best I can be.

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Breea 19, USA

Helping others understand MS is key.

My onset was severe with paralysis, blindness, and the inability to speak or swallow. I don't remember much about my first 10 days in the hospital, but when I woke up I had so many family and friends surrounding me with support and love, especially my mum. She never left the hospital and began researching MS to become as educated as she could about my new diagnosis.

Managing my social life has been a very big challenge for me. Many people think that because I have mobility issues or that I may relapse that they have to ‘babysit’ me.

"The only affect that MS had on my relationship with Breea, is a positive one. It brought us closer, and reminded me what a best friend is capable of… Changing your whole life for the better – no matter how it's done. She also showed me what it means to be a best friend, and how to truly be there for someone."Friend

I found out who my really close friends were pretty quickly and discovered the ones who were fake or simply just not strong enough to stand by someone with such a life altering disease. On the plus side it has made my relationship with my boyfriend even stronger and has shown his true character to me.

"My newfound knowledge about MS has given me the strength and confidence to support her in her toughest moments."Boyfriend

I am really lucky to have friends and family in my life that are so amazing. My mum has taken on the job of being my full time caregiver, physical therapist and support group leader. She finds the most creative ways to incorporate therapy and teaches me how to keep my sense of humour and to stay positive throughout this whole experience. My closest friends cheer me up as often as they can. They step in to help by taking me out to dinner or to a movie and by just accepting me like they did before. This makes a really big difference to my life.

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