Julia at the 2014 MS Walk

We walk so the next generation won’t have to.

Guest post by Julia Nimilowich

Every year I look for ways to contribute even more behind the scenes for people like me who live with multiple sclerosis. I have served as an MS Ambassador, board chair, top fundraiser and spokesperson for the MS Walk. This year marks my ninth year, and it’s always so moving to speak to the crowd of walkers. I cannot describe the feeling of support and camaraderie I feel when I take the stage. Looking out to the group of thousands — friends, family and strangers all united against MS — is remarkable.

In a few months, I’ll be a mom. And for me, that means I’m going to do whatever I can so that future generations won’t have to face what I’ve faced. This year I’m not walking just for myself, but my own child, and the children who are too young to know about multiple sclerosis. I want to end MS so that they never have to.

My MS journey started in the spring of 2003, in a dance studio in Edmonton. I had just returned from my first contract as a production dancer on the MV Century for Celebrity Cruises and had begun training for my next contract. We started doing jumps, and mine ended with a crash to the floor. I laughed it off. But my instructor took it seriously and pressed me to seek medical advice.

After a series of tests and doctors visits, I was diagnosed with MS. I put everything on hold to focus on my health and try to understand what my diagnosis would mean for me. A million thoughts and questions ran through my mind. I couldn’t dance, but I wasn’t dying. From what I gathered, MS was this mysterious disease that came and went as it pleased — but I wouldn’t let it have control over me. I needed to do something to take control over my body, back from MS.

I kept noticing brochures in local businesses about the MS Walk, and that’s when it clicked. I started Team Julia in Edmonton’s MS Walk to march against the unknown. At first it was just seven or so friends and family. But we’ve grown, and we’ve been walking ever since.

Over the years, Team Julia has gained supporters and momentum, making it the top fundraising MS Walk team in all of Canada for many years. Together we have raised more than $500,000, appeared on the news, hosted top shelf gala fundraisers, had hamburgers named after us in a local restaurant and drummed up a great deal of awareness for MS.

Julia Nicole Nimilowich explains a cure would mean she could be there for her child.

Now at eight months pregnant, I’m not sure how far I will walk. But that’s not the point. Despite the challenges of living with MS, I continue to live my life. When I see the little girl in the MS Walk PSA pin on her bib and know she’s walking for her mom, I envision my own child growing up to follow in my footsteps as a fundraiser and advocate. But I hope my little boy or girl can find another cause to support – because although my future as a mother living with MS is clouded with uncertainty, I have every confidence that there will be cure in my lifetime.

Julia is an MS Ambassador with the MS Society of Canada.

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    That is amazing to hear. Your child will be proud of you and will look up to you. Your child has a great mom! I too was diagnosed with Relapse Remitting on July 19, 2013. I am 46 years old now, and living everyday with a constant reminder that I am now special….I embrace it, and I say to people… I have MS but MS will never have ME! Stay strong, live life, and keep going forward! That’s the way I live, and I never do anything half way, I’m all in!

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    Your little munchkin will have a role model, as mine does 🙂
    I was officially diagnosed Nov 2014. I gave birth in April of last year. 4 month postpartum, everything just came crashing down. Extreme fatigue, numb and tingly legs for months, numb tingly hands and then face, just not being the Tam I am. That’s when the emergency visit started, the series of doctors appointment, the MRI and then the NEWS. Apparently shown on my MRI was enough damage to suggest I’ve been battling MS for YEARS. Just never put 2 and 2 together. I’m 32, with a beautiful, witty, intelligent 13 months old. I haven’t done the walk yet, but I will definitely be walking for myself and my little munchkins, I want her to be healthy and not have to go through what I’m going through.
    Good luck with you delivery. I know this sounds like an impossible task, but try to get enough rest as you can. Sleep when they sleep. It will be easier on you MS and postpartum. And take good walks when you can, that helps also. And most importantly enjoy every minute of your munchkin because it goes by way to fast

  4. Pingback: Life changes, but happiness can remain. – Blog – MS Society of Canada

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