Guest post by Andrea Dunn, MS Bike ambassador
The day I went to see a doctor about my MS symptoms was a totally normal day. I walked my dogs around the block like I do every day, but this time when I returned home my legs went numb. That was my first sign – I instinctively knew my body was trying to tell me something. I went to my family doctor who sent me to a neurologist. I was experiencing a sort of static in my spine whenever I bent my neck, and pain in my armpit and the left side of my body. After my second MRI, the neurologist found lesions and told me that I had multiple sclerosis. Just like that.
I wasn’t prepared for the news. MS had been mentioned to me as a worst case scenario. I was terrified as my doctor handed me pamphlets which explained my disease. A disease I knew nothing about. The scariest thing about MS is that no one can tell what’s going to happen. Every case is different and you can’t compare yourself to anyone else – your symptoms won’t be the same as other people’s. I’m proud of myself for taking action right from the start. It meant I was able to start treatment right away which helped me immensely.
That was in 2010. A lot has changed for me since then. I have twin boys now who are almost 18 months old. My partner Jen and I are so fulfilled by becoming mothers to our incredible children who bring so much joy and love to our lives everyday. We always knew we wanted children. Jen looked forward to carrying them for us, because I couldn’t risk being off my medication for that long. It’s extremely challenging running around after toddlers, but I’m also dealing with the fatigue that comes with MS, so I make sure to rest when I can and Jen’s really good about stepping in when I need help.
MS Bike: A journey I had to take
I rode in my first MS Bike last summer which was an item on my bucket list. I wasn’t sure if I would physically be able to do it, but I wanted to try and felt like it was the right time for me. I was going to the gym and working out with a personal trainer to get in better shape. I wasn’t a cyclist at all, but after my first MS Bike last year, cycling is something I find really rewarding. I stopped at every rest stop along the way for water and food to keep me going. I packed snacks in the back of my jersey which helped on some of the long country roads when I needed a boost. On the second day of the event, a very good friend of mine met me along the route and encouraged me through the last 10 km. It was much needed support.
The whole experience was awesome and easier than I thought it was going to be. I finished the first day in five hours and the second day in four. It was such a rush – I couldn’t believe that I’d managed to finish that quickly! To be honest, I thought it might have taken me closer to eight hours a day, so I was thrilled with what I had accomplished.
I have a team of people supporting me, which helps push me along throughout my rides. Our team, “Team Dunner” is made up of people I work with at Corus Radio in London, ON. In past years, MS Bike took place at the same time as another local festival which my colleagues and I work at, so we weren’t able to participate. Now that the weekend is available to us, we’re looking forward to coming out every year!
It’s so important to me that people get involved and fundraise for this awesome event. The number of Canadians affected by MS is significant. I know two people who have passed due to complications with MS, and it’s impacted my life in a way that I never would have anticipated. I encourage everyone to come out and ride in an MS Bike event at least once, and I’m confident once you try it you’ll come back the following year. For people, like me, who are living with MS and trying to stay physically active, this is a great event to be a part of. The support you receive en route and the people who surround you are truly inspiring.
Hope to see you there!
Andrea is an #MSBike ambassador. She lives in London, ON. where she spends the early hours of the morning as a radio host on Country 104, and loves spending her free time with her partner Jen and twin boys.
We will be sharing more stories from other #MSBike ambassadors across Canada leading up to #MSBike. Join Andrea in her journey to end MS by registering for your local #MSBike event today at msbike.ca. Tell us in the comments: who do you ride for?