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By Faith Agauas
August 5, 2021

In 1999, I was living life to the fullest. I had two children, working at a great job, traveling, going to college and exploring all life had to offer. I was an active mother, always juggling multiple work and personal duties at the same time. I was always on the go (I still am). I never took sick days and rarely used vacation or personal days. But I began to feel my body change.

About 10 years prior to this, I noticed some forgetfulness, tingling in the hands and feet, and fatigue. I always thought it was because I dd too much and because I was always on the go. The 10 years leading up to 1999, these symptoms became worse and harder to deny. I also began to develop new symptoms such as weakness in my extremities, migraines and what I now know to be optic neuritis. I also had battled my first diagnosis of cancer (I would go on to develop and beat cancer 2 more times). So for years, I went to doctors to figure out what was causing these symptoms.

In the 90s, the doctors I saw attributed everything I was feeling to being a woman. I was told it was a “female” issue, that it was from postpartum and that I just depressed. Doctors didn’t take me seriously. I was told to go home, eat healthier, get more sleep and have less stress in my life. Easier said than done. I was a single mom with two kids and working full-time. I also didn’t appreciate that I wasn’t being taken seriously and that these symptoms were a cause of a medical disorder and not something I was just making up in my head.

After years of searching for a doctor who believed me and with symptoms becoming more prevalent, I found the answers I was looking for. I finally heard those three words: “you have MS.”

I had heard of MS from a few well-known public figures, but I didn’t know what the disease entailed. All I was thinking about was how am I going to raise my children, work and go back to school. There were no support groups or communities to turn to. I didn’t know anyone like me, going through the same struggles I was. That didn’t come until much later into my diagnosis.

The years following my diagnosis, I continued to work full-time, sometimes even working two jobs. I raised my children. I went back to school full time. Unfortunately, I did have to quit school after earning my associates. The workload became too much and the field I was pursing, criminal justice, wasn’t a field I could physically partake in anymore.

Since the day I was diagnosed, I didn’t let this life changing moment define who I am. My family and I have always just figured it out. We’ve adapted where needed. I’ve always kept a positive attitude and used humor as my number one medicine to get through everything. I’m a very stubborn woman. If you tell me no, I’ll try to prove you otherwise. Even if I don’t succeed, I go down swinging and fighting. That’s not to say I don’t have bad days. We’re all human. My daughter says, “you have 24 hours.” I have 24 hours to be mad, angry, wallow and cry. Then I pick myself back up and face the day. I never settle. I get up every morning, put my feet on the ground, and I see what kind of trouble I can get into.

Faith Agauas

Faith is a mother of two and a grandmother of one from Sterling Heights, MI. She was diagnosed with MS in 1999 and has been an ambassador and advocate for herself and her community ever since. She loves traveling, spending time with loved ones, gardening and seeing what kind of trouble she can get into every day! Follow along with her and her journey on Instagram.

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