• “Living with MS, you need to put your own oxygen mask on first.”

    Sam family shot
    Guest post by Samara Bleiwas

    I’m a mom, wife, business owner and a volunteer – things don’t just stop when you receive a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. What’s most challenging for me is that I never fully gained my vision back – my right eye is at about 30 percent, and what I see is equivalent to watching a blurry black and white movie. Most people get their vision back within three months, but after almost two years, I’m resigned to the fact that my vision will remain the same. I’m just a little bit more cautious when crossing the street and driving. It’s amazing how I got used to limited vision, and my brain just adjusted to my new normal.

    (more…)

    Continue Reading
  • “This announcement marks an important milestone in MS research, and possible treatment options for people like me — living with progressive MS.”

    Guest post by Cory Turner

    We don’t get to pick when we’re diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and like many others who’ve received the news, the timing for me wasn’t ideal. Having just moved to San Francisco a couple of years prior, my life was just finding its footing. My career was moving in the right direction – my wife was six months pregnant with our first child, and plans for a new home were on the horizon – life was good. It’s when double vision, and the associated unbalance invaded my world, made it clear that life for me and my family would begin to change. Agility and strength were now being replaced with fatigue and disruption, and my energy needed to be invested wisely. In 2005, feeling that something was off, my wife convinced me to go to the hospital where an ER doctor ordered a CT scan that quickly revealed spots on my brain. It was a fast diagnosis of relapsing-remitting MS that followed, which would develop into progressive MS as time passed. Surrounded by a flood of concern, this would represent the first of many forks in the road.

    Cory and wife
    (more…)

    Continue Reading
  • Brief attack, lasting impact

    by Robyn Cohen

    It took me almost a full year to recover after my first MS relapse. As this episode unravelled my life, there were a lot of ups and downs, both emotionally and physically. Today, seven years later, I rest as much as I can, take vitamins, eat well, exercise and take my medication weekly. I have not had an attack since 2009. Even so, I want to raise awareness of how an MS relapse can have a lasting impact on your life. Such is living with an unpredictable, episodic illness.

    Multiple sclerosis is tricky and cruel. The fear of your next attack alone can debilitate you. Every morning, I open my eyes, wiggle my toes, and feel grateful that I’m able to conquer my day in four-inch stilettos! Without my doctor’s and family’s support, both financially and emotionally, I’m not sure where I would be today.

    caseyromero

    (more…)

    Continue Reading
  • Jonathan Allenger: Why I Ride

    Jonathan on the 2014 Ottawa - Cornwall MS Bike

    It’s the start of summer 2013, and Ottawa-born Jonathan Allenger, 32 years old and working in the Canadian finance industry is sitting in a hospital room listening to his son Leo’s heartbeat for the first time. “The highlight of [his] life” was taking place less than 24 hours before he would receive a diagnosis of MS.

    That same summer, his family uprooted to Toronto’s Greektown-Danforth neighbourhood, where Jonathan’s Italian heritage helped him blend in seamlessly amongst the plentiful gyro restaurants and busy summer festivals (his grandparents immigrated from Italy to Montreal before he was born). He was able to get a transfer at work and hold on to a steady job in the city’s financial district. The fact that the MS clinic at St. Michael’s Hospital in downtown Toronto is the largest in North America made the move less daunting. But underneath it all, he was searching for a way to fight back against MS.

    (more…)

    Continue Reading
  • Taking the hills sitting down

    By Karen Osak, diagnosed with secondary-progressive MS in 1990.

    I was three the first time I tried skiing. It was 1966, and I was wearing one of those horrid snowsuits that kids wore back then. Picture Randy from A Christmas Story, but with bamboo ski poles in each hand. What a sight I must have been.

    SteveShannonPhoto_20150402_6337

    (more…)

    Continue Reading
  • MS Bike landscapes #2: Lower Laurentians vs. Hinton

    As August fades into September and the heat wave warnings are replaced by forecasts calling for “sweater weather”, MS Bike is still going strong.

    Today we’re highlighting the beautiful landscapes of the Lower Laurentians in Quebec and Hinton, Alberta, where MS Bike tours are happening soon. If you’re already registered for one of these tours, you’re in for some great surprises along each route, from Quebec’s infamous joie de vivre to a classic western Canadian BBQ.

    landscapes1

    LOWER LAURENTIANS, QC

    Tour length: 70-150 km

    August 29-30, 2015

    Register here 

    This year, the Lower Laurentians MS Bike has more than 20 different itineraries available for riders to choose from. You can opt to cycle along flat or hilly roads, and enjoy the rural landscapes and wide open spaces that characterize the region.

    Take it all in

    During your ride, you’ll come by lots of roadside kiosks selling local fruit and vegetables. If that’s not charming enough, you’ll also enjoy the soothing effect of fields full of horses whizzing by. The region is known for being quite flat and is characterized by its wide open spaces and beautiful fall foliage. Pick up a basket of Quebec strawberries to keep you energized on your ride.

    9131127393_1fc876f2f4_o

    Experience Montreal’s infamous joie de vivre

    If you’ve had your fill of pastoral scenery and peace and quiet, head into nearby Montreal where there is never a shortage of things to do: take in a play, check out one of the city’s many street festivals, reward yourself with a drink on a terrasse along the Main or check out the buskers in Old Montreal. The energy in the city is contagious, and it’s always l’amour fou.

    Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 1.05.34 PM

    HINTON, AB

    Tour Length: 90 km

    September 12-13, 2015

    Register here

    If the rustic charm of rural Quebec doesn’t appeal to your inner adrenaline junkie, the Hinton MS Bike might be more up your alley. The tour consists of two exhilarating days of biking in the Rocky Mountains followed by a finish line BBQ and drinks.

    Under the Beaver Boardwalk

    After a weekend of adrenaline-fuelled mountain biking, taking in some Hinton nature is a good way to unwind.  Bring the kids and explore the three-kilometre wooden pathway that winds its way through wetlands and a living, active beaver pond. There’s a chance you’ll spot any number of amphibians, birds, night owls and waterfowl while on your walk, not to mention the Canadian national emblem itself, beavers!

    Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 1.05.03 PM

    Go for a dip

    Day one of the ride finishes at Kelley’s Bathtub, where you can take in the surrounding Rocky Mountains, cool off from your day of riding and enjoy one last swim before the official end of summer.

    If you haven’t registered for MS Bike yet, there’s still time. Experience our country while helping end Canada’s disease: multiple sclerosis.

    Continue Reading
  • Sam in Three: Play about MS happening in New Brunswick

    13 August 2015

    Sam in Three Final Reading Image

    My name is Thomas Morgan Jones, I’m the artistic director for Theatre New Brunswick.

    My MS diagnosis came after a case of optic neuritis. As with many people, months of tests followed by an MRI led to the news in the neurologist’s office. I’ve heard from many people who have been diagnosed with a disease, and from their loved ones, that processing this kind of news is very similar to the stages of grieving: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. My journey has been very similar.

    From where I am today, I can look back and realize that the difference between then and now is the way I define myself. Shortly after the diagnosis, I would have said, “My name is Thomas and I have MS.” Now I say, “My name is Thomas and I am a husband, a son, an artist…and I have MS.” The disease does not define me, it’s only part of the definition of me. That said, I am very lucky to be in excellent health, which makes this distinction perhaps a little easier.

    As a theatre artist and a playwright, I am a storyteller. Once I found myself in a place of acceptance about my MS, my story and the stories of so many others became something I needed to bring to the stage. “Sam in Three” is a short play about a fictionalized character that is diagnosed with MS at the same time that his wife discovers she is pregnant. The nine months of pregnancy mirror nine months of Sam’s deteriorating health. When I was writing the play, it slowly evolved from a story about personal struggle to one that is also about social and political questions about access to treatment and healthcare in Canada.

    As an artist, and as a person, I am stronger for my diagnosis and what it has meant to my development and how I see the world. Now, in the extraordinary and humbling position of being the leader of a regional theatre in Canada, I am sharing my story as a reading with audiences in Fredericton and New Brunswick. This first reading is just that: sharing. I look forward to seeing where the conversation takes us!

    Sam in Three is a play written by Thomas Jones. As part of the playwright’s process, the play will be ‘read’ in public for feedback and audience comments. The reading takes place at Theatre New Brunswick’s Studio Theatre, located at 55 Whiting Road, Fredericton, NB on Friday August 14 at 7:30 pm. Admission is pay what you can.

    Continue Reading
  • Doc’s Orders: Tips for keeping your bicycle healthy leading up to MS Bike

    12 August 2015

    Dave Jones and Brad Randall, The Bike Doctor, Saskatoon

    We’ve enjoyed providing mechanical support to the cyclists in the MS Bike tours in Saskatchewan for about 28 years. It’s been a pleasure serving all of the wonderful people dedicating their time and energy to ending MS.

    Over the years we’ve tuned up thousands of bikes. We’ve seen people ride the MS Bike on tandem bikes, recumbents, trikes, hand cycles, fat bikes and even a unicycle.

    15470972105_091a730f2a_o

    Here are a few tips to keep your bike healthy for any MS Bike landscape.

    #1 Make sure your bike is the right size—you’d be surprised how many people are riding a bike that isn’t the right size for them! Take your bike to an experienced bicycle mechanic or your local bike shop for sizing. You’ll enjoy your tour a lot more!

    #2 Check that your seat is at the right height. You should have a slight bend in your knee when you’re seated and the crank is in the fully extended position.

    #3 Invest in a comfortable seat. There are many different widths and thicknesses of seats out there. Our suggestion is to seek out a seat built specifically for your body type; it can make a huge difference on a long ride.

    #4 Check that your tires are well inflated . If you can push down on them with your thumb, they need pumping up. We recommend a tire with a smooth centre and not too many knobs. This will substantially reduce resistance while pedalling and can help you ride faster and save your energy.

    4699704589_b9ef37c938_b

    #5 Lubricate your chain when needed. This reduces wear and friction while pedalling.

    #6 Have your wheels trued to make sure they aren’t rubbing on the brakes while you ride. No need to work any harder than you have to.

    #7 Make sure that your handlebars are at a comfortable height to protect your back and prevent too much weight being placed on the wrists and hands.

    #8 Fasten a water bottle holder to your bike so you can stay hydrated during the ride.

    #9 Adjust your helmet so that your head is protected in the event of a fall.

    15467834621_83f0c9b817_o

    Most importantly, have fun and happy fundraising! Register for your local #MSBike ride today, and join thousands of Canadians in the fight to #endMS.

    Continue Reading
  • MS Bike landscapes #1: Grand Bend vs. Wolfville

    As Canadians, we know better than anyone how fleeting the joys of summer can be. We pack in as many weekend plans as we can so that we make the most of our sunshine. Road trips, picnics, campfires and water parks are benchmarks of a successful season, as are the memories we’ll cling to when the weather turns cold again.

    MS Bike tours happen across the country throughout the summer, and they’re a great way to visit beautiful parts of Canada that you might not see otherwise. Our country’s topography is exceptionally diverse, making each MS Bike experience different from the others.
    Today we’re highlighting some of the major differences between the Grand Bend to London and Windsor to Wolfville MS Bike tours, both of which take place this weekend.

    GRAND BEND, ON
    Tour length: 150 km
    July 25-26, 2015

    The ride from Grand Bend to London and back—this year celebrating 25 years of MS Bike—is two days of beautiful views and flat-as-can-be farmland and fresh air. If you’re thinking of participating in the Grand Bend to London MS Bike this year, make the most of it by visiting the sights.
    Camping at the Grand Bend Motorplex

    14667526838_856ce9c812_o

    Set up camp
    Did you know you can pitch a tent on the Motorplex grounds for 10 dollars? Show up the night before and get to know some of your fellow riders over some roasted marshmallows and a tin foil dinner. When you wake up, you’ll be right at the start line and ready to ride!

    Sandy beaches as far as the eye can see
    After two days of biking, there’s nothing quite like a dip in the lake. Grand Bend is home to hundreds of miles of sandy beach. Being on the west side of Ontario also means some pretty stunning sunsets, so pack your swimsuit and a camera!

    7714122532_77cb030290_o

    WOLFVILLE, NS
    135 km
    July 25-26, 2015

    If open fields aren’t your thing, head east and sign up for a scenic coastal ride along Windsor to Wolfville, NS. Wolfville is in the Annapolis Valley and is known for its small-town charm and local wines.

    MSBT13-1659

    High tides in Cape Blomidon
    The Bay of Fundy boasts some of the highest tides in the world and was named a finalist for the New7Wonders of Nature contest that took place a few years ago. Besides being a fantastic photo opportunity, it’s a great place to take the whole family for a post-ride picnic.

    Wine tasting in Annapolis Valley
    The Annapolis Valley is home to a slew of wineries that not a lot of people know are there, and Wolfville is just a hop, skip and a jump away. Sharing a glass of wine while you reminisce about the two days you spent riding together is a great way to end the weekend and strengthen the bond you’ve built with your teammates.

    Luckett'sVinyard_newsky(hires).tif

    Do you have any MS Bike related travel traditions? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!

    Continue Reading