Friday, July 20, 2012

Six Questions with Lois Flanigan

Ladies and Gentlemen, please let us introduce Lois Flanigan. Lois was diagnosed with MS in 1992 and became a MSF Ambassador in 2011. She is an animal lover who lives with her husband in Aberdeen, S.D. Together they began a self-help group called, Striving Against Multiple Sclerosis (SAMS), to help those in the community experience positive reinforcement as they live with MS.

How has MS changed your life?
I get to stay home now – something that most people wish they could do. However, the old adage of 'be careful what you wish for' certainly does apply. I was a type-A personality, working 10 hours a day, taking care of the home, and volunteering in the evenings. I now have to budget my hours for what I need to do and what I want to accomplish during the day. Otherwise I will be spending more time in bed than I want.

What is the most important thing you’ve learned since your diagnosis?
Do what you can with what you have, while you can. I am by no means invincible, but I am still needed and have a job. A small kitten in the bathroom forced me to get out of bed and feed him some 6 years ago, so I am definitely needed. I can still do some of the things I used to, just not the same way.  I have 'modified' my hobbies and chores so they take less energy and effort to get completed.

How have you found support?
My biggest support lives with me - my wonderful husband who at times understands my MS more than I, and my four-legged family of cats and dogs who love having me home. However, for answers to my questions and help with MS, I follow a saying from my childhood, “Knowing the answer is not genius, knowing where to find the answers is.” So, I research libraries and the internet, and question doctors and nurses – anyone who may be able to assist, or know where I can get help. And, I started my own support group, Striving Against Multiple Sclerosis (SAMS), to help others, and keep attitudes flowing in a positive direction.

What is the best coping tip you’ve picked up?
To deal with one thing at a time. MS can be, and is, an overwhelming journey in a life. I say journey because I look at it as a roadblock in my road of life.  Now, I can choose to try and crawl over the roadblock, go around it, or sit and hope someone else will remove it for me. The latter is a very unlikely situation. I need to be proactive, positive, and forward thinking. Each day I can still cook a meal, or do a load of laundry is now a good day.

What is your favorite MS- or health-related website?  is a website to help with brain 'training', if you will. I love the games on this site. I also interact with others who have MS on Facebook and play the games on the site. All of these help keep my mind active.  For MS information I have found the most user friendly website is It provides me with information that is invaluable to me and my family.
This is the bonus question! What question would you like to ask our readers? Your answer?
What have you done to accept your MS?

Your answer? I started a support group to interact with others who have MS. Together we work for answers, ideas, and help each other Striving Against MS.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Six Questions with Allison Bryant

Hope everyone is having a good week and staying cool with all of this HOT weather! We love highlighting our ambassadors, so this week's "Six Questions" introduces you to Allison Bryant. Allison Bryant is an MSF Ambassador from Huntington, NY. She is a competitive ballroom dancer who teaches at her own nonprofit dance studio on Long Island. She gives free dance classes to needy children, and also offers special classes for children and adults with MS. Her goal is to travel the country and teach dance and movement workshops to people with MS. 

1. How has MS changed your life?
Having MS has opened my eyes to a whole new world. It has taught me that it's okay to ask for help and not only are there people in my life who are willing to help, but I have discovered the kindness of strangers. It has humbled me. It hasn't changed in a completely 100% positive sunny way, but I have embraced the difficulties after six and a half years of living with this disease.

2. What is the most important thing you’ve learned since your diagnosis?
I've learned that I'm not superwoman and it's OK!

3. How have you found support?
I've reached out to the medical community and have found support from doctors, nurses, PTs, OTs, therapists, and even receptionists at the office. When I go to the doctor, hospital, or even get blood drawn and I'm not having a good day, they know how to make me feel better and I know there is always someone to talk to or sit with me.

4. What is the best coping tip you’ve picked up?
It's okay to have ice cream for dinner, as long as you don't do it every day :)

5. What is your favorite MS- or health-related website?

6. What question would you like to ask our readers?
Have you ever said "I can't do that" because of the MS?

Your answer?
I thought I wouldn't be able to dance again, but now I'm a competitive ballroom dancer. There's nothing I can't do, I just not may able to do it the same way as people with no limitations or diseases!