An optimist’s journey overcoming MS

A dental hygienist by training, Valérie decided to go back to school at 27. When she was pregnant with her second daughter, she completed her master’s degree with a concentration in notarial law and went to work as a notary in a law firm.

Today, as she looks back, Valérie realizes that she had several symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS) before her diagnosis. Her doctor had suspected that she had the disease when she was in her early 30s. However, Valérie had thought the fatigue, leg pain and memory issues were due to her epilepsy or stress — she was working full time and caring for her husband who was in remission from cancer. In addition, they had two young children at home. When she was finally diagnosed, all the questions were answered.

She received her diagnosis on March 20, 2013. Two years later, her husband had a cancer relapse and passed away. Valérie now found herself widowed, a single parent, with a recent diagnosis of MS at the age of 40. The illness affected her cognitive abilities, such as her memory and concentration, which made it impossible for her to continue working. She had to leave her job at the firm after a mere five years in her field. It was a second reason for her to mourn.

Today, Valérie is grateful that she can be there on a daily basis for her daughters – to live with them through their successes and struggles. Every day, she considers herself lucky to have the life she leads despite all the hardships she has had to overcome. The most difficult of these was losing her husband. While he was sick, Valérie realized that she was faced with two choices: feeling sorry for herself or enjoying his last moments by his side. She decided to make the most of his presence. After he passed away, she focused on the positive and happy memories by remembering what an exceptional father and husband he had been and how lucky she was to have had him in her life. She gave her two daughters the same advice to help them get through the ordeal.

Despite the hardships, Valérie remains a positive woman and a fighter. Her hopes for the future are that everything will go well and that the darker moments are behind her. Since no one has control over the future, she prefers to focus on the present and all the beautiful things in everyday life. If another difficult event were to arise, she would face it with the same determination she has shown in the past. She sees her future as a ray of sunshine, but not one without problems. Although aware of this fact, she is determined to keep smiling every day.

Valérie has the same attitude about her illness. Instead of complaining about her condition, she enjoys doing activities at her own pace and being with the people she loves every day. She is happy today sharing her life with a new spouse and his daughter, and their family is now made up of three children who are 19, 15, and 13 years old. In addition to being a Board member for the MS Society of Canada, Gatineau Chapter, she volunteers for the MS Society and gives art classes to a group of people with the disease.

During her classes, Valérie takes the time to have fun with the participants. She allows people to play and forget about their illness for a while. They enjoy classes peppered by moments of humour and creativity. According to Valérie, some people have a more difficult time than she does with dealing with the disease. She is committed to helping them by giving them her time and infectious energy. Valérie strives to spread happiness and live each moment with the greatest possible intensity and joy.

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