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For this week's Friday's Friend, PBL is so proud to pass the mic to Tony Ferro, founder of Buffalo, NY based non-profit Change MS.  Change MS was created to help people with Multiple Sclerosis feel better physically, mentally and emotionally.  Tony is healing his body through food, movement and mindfulness, and is here to share his story with us.

By: Tony Ferro

MS/Multiple Sclerosis: two simple letters that are short for a complicated condition. Anyone who has MS can relate to the challenges and fears that come when you hear those words for the very first time.

As serious as the disease is, the bond it creates with those that share the same diagnosis is amazing. Anyone I have ever spoken to about the day of diagnosis has the same story, same emotions, same sense of loneliness and not knowing where to turn. It is hard to stay positive when you hear such devastating news. But the moment you leave that doctor’s office is when the journey should begin.

This disturbing news saved my life.   You’re probably thinking, how can being diagnosed with a disease save one’s life? Well, I can assure you my diagnosis turned into a blessing and instead of looking at it as the end; it was my opportunity for a new beginning!

Perception and positive outlook on your situation is key!

If I could give anyone with MS one piece of advice it would to have the right ATTITUDE! One thing my doctors say (and I agree with), is if they could bottle up my attitude and prescribe it, they would. Although, not one of them agrees with me not taking any medications, they are all pleased with my progress and the way I look at things. I have always been an optimistic person, no matter what the situation, and that has helped. Talking about myself isn’t easy for me, but I’ve learned that the more I speak about it, the more positive I am with my own situation. I also find that by speaking my truth, it allows others to open up and talk about their experiences.

Community Matters!

No one should feel alone! One thing that I found lacking in the doctor’s office on the day of my diagnosis was the sense of community. I wanted to talk to someone who had been through the new things I was experiencing, but instead I was left alone with some preprinted literature and my own thoughts… and the answers I could find on Google. WTF is that?! No one should be told something that serious and be sent off to fend for themselves! In my experience, this burden is the heaviest thing to carry with you; holding things in and trying to hide our new fate can cause more harm than good.

Be your own advocate & Embrace Change!

I often ask people after sharing our MS stories, “what are you doing differently now that you have MS”? I press them to consider things like… How are you being proactive and handling the diagnosis? Are you only taking advice from your doctor or are you more aggressive with getting multiple sources of information and not wanting to settle for the normal status quo?

We are an over-medicated and under-educated society. Do I have all the answers? Absolutely not. But leaving the doctor’s office early in 2012 and seeing how devastated my mother was, followed by close friends and of course my family, I found new strength. I was going to be ok. It fueled a thirst for knowledge that I never experienced before.

I intend to keep learning and kicking MS’s ass. But all in all, I’m looking forward to learning about myself. I recently attended a health seminar and met amazing people with inspiring success stories. I also met one of my idols, Dr. Terry Wahls and a new mentor, V Capaldi (or the woman you know as PaleoBOSS Lady®). I can’t help but ask … what if they listened? What if they settled for what they were supposed to do according to their doctor’s orders and ignored their heart? What if they didn’t go above and beyond what they were told? They wouldn’t have these stories to share; they wouldn’t be able to inspire others to do the same.

Don’t settle!! Don’t stop questioning! And don’t stop believing in the power of you.

Through his organization, Tony and the Change MS team have created an amazing community dedicated to raising awareness about MS, providing resources and support,  and empowering people to live their best life.

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