Through thick and thin: Estelle and Adam’s MS love story

Guest post by: Estelle McLellan and Adam Laufer

When Estelle and Adam first started dating, they never anticipated to have a third wheel in their relationship: Estelle’s MS.

Now as a newly engaged couple, they share their story from two unique perspectives: one as a resilient woman who was just newly diagnosed, and the other, as a supportive partner who stood by her through thick and thin.

Estelle: my MS story

When you’re young and you meet someone special, all you look forward to is your bright future together. That’s how I felt when I met Adam. I dreamt of our careers, our marriage, our travels, and the idea of starting a family together. I never would’ve thought that at 24 years old, I’d be diagnosed with an incurable disease like MS, with the potential of those dreams becoming suddenly out of reach. 

My MS symptoms started long before I ever met Adam, but back then, they were more manageable. I lived my life as I normally would. I worked, went to school, and pursued my dreams – but my symptoms became progressively worse.

(Photo by: What Dreams May Become Photography)

On my birthday trip in January 2018, I became sicker than I’d ever been before. I experienced vertigo, double vision, vomiting, pain, numbness, debilitating fatigue, balance issues, cognitive problems – the list goes on. Needless to say, it completely ruined our vacation. In August 2019, after three relapses, I was finally diagnosed with MS.

Since then, Adam and I have weathered many storms. From starting off in a long-distance relationship spanning thousands of miles, to packing up and moving from England to Canada to be together, we understand what sacrifice is. Yet, my MS diagnosis proved to be more challenging than we ever expected.

Not knowing what the future had to hold was terrifying for both of us. Our whole world was flipped upside down and I was terrified that Adam would no longer want to be with me. I felt as though I was a burden and that my MS was holding him back.

(Photo by: McLachlan Studios)

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Adam is my rock. He holds onto me on the toughest days, encourages me on the better days, and cheers me on through the best days. His strength throughout my diagnosis makes me believe in myself. We are a team and he makes me feel as though we can fight this together.

Through this process, we also found faith, and welcomed God into our lives. I truly believe that I was chosen to travel this road with MS, and that sharing my story will help others living with or affected by this disease.

Coming to terms with the fact that MS is the third wheel in our relationship, our priorities started to shift. We realized that our strength as a couple and our faith in God would be paramount in conquering the highs and lows that come with this disease.

MS can rob you of a lot of things, but it can’t take away true love. Adam’s not with me because he has to be, he’s with me because he wants to be – with or without MS.

Adam:

Watching someone you love live with a chronic disease is devastating. My fiancée Estelle was diagnosed with MS in 2019 after experiencing symptoms for years. Our foundation as a couple had been strong from the beginning, but we didn’t understand why she was experiencing these symptoms. Needless to say, the unknowns put a strain on our relationship.

Before her diagnosis, I wasn’t always understanding, and we both became frustrated because of it. Looking back, I feel terrible for how I handled her symptoms pre-diagnosis. Now knowing that they were due to her MS gives me a true understanding of the invisible aspect of the disease, and a new perspective on our relationship.

When Estelle was finally diagnosed, the missing puzzle pieces began to come together. To finally know why she was constantly feeling sick was a huge relief and I was able to put my focus on what I could to help her.

It breaks my heart to watch Estelle not be able to do all the things she wants to do, but she always does her best to persevere. We’re continuously adapting and the more we understand her limitations, the easier it has become. Yet, there are still many unknowns.

There are times when we have to cancel plans last minute, forfeit event tickets, or miss out on experiences while we are on vacation. Although that can be disappointing, we realize that this is part of our journey together and we wouldn’t want to experience it with anyone else.

Estelle has always been the strongest person I know, and somehow since her diagnosis, I have only seen more of her resilient nature. We sometimes forget the invisible aspect of MS, so I have to remind her to rest and put her health first.

There have been many ups and downs on our journey together, but I know we’re ready to tackle every obstacle that comes our way. With the advancements in MS research, developing treatments, and a great neurology team, the future looks much brighter than it had before her diagnosis. 

I’m so proud of Estelle for keeping a positive outlook on life despite all her hardships. Living with MS can be confusing and exhausting, yet she shows up for me every day and I love her dearly for that.

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    Tammy Hollingsworth

    It’s a long hard struggle. My husband was diagnosed with Ms in his twenties( relapsing remitting) now he’s 51 and waiting to go into a long term care facility as it’s progressed to secondary progressive. We have been married 21 years and have a fantastic son. It’s hard, and full of ups and downs. Good luck in your future. Ensure your partner also requests help and support when he needs it. Partners are often overlooked as they always seem so strong and supportive.

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    The most amazing couple I know. You guys are incredible. Love you loads!

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