Buen Camino” That’s what Jacob & I will be saying when we embark on the greatest adventure (to date!) of our lives, this coming spring.
Rewind 18 years, to 1997. As a busy wife and mother to 4 young daughters, I didn’t have time for the hassle of losing my sight. It was probably a weird migraine thing, I reasoned. After many tests, a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis left us reeling with fear and uncertainty. The sight in my left eye eventually returned and then my right eye became affected. Thankfully the sight returned as well in that eye, although the optic nerves were permanently damaged. Now the other symptoms I was experiencing, such as overwhelming fatigue, numbness and poor balance, began to make sense.
Enter the MS Society’s Niagara Peninsula Chapter of Hope (NPCH). Ironically, a few years after I became a member, they wanted to rename our local chapter and my submission was the name that was chosen. Becoming involved with them has benefited not only me, but also my family. Support groups, summer kids programs, MS yoga, MS Newsletter (of which I was editor for a number of years), numerous other events and activities, all designed to enhance the lives of all those affected by MS, whether directly or indirectly. Fall of 2012 I was made aware through the NPCH, of a “neuro” program offered by the outpatient clinic of the Hotel Dieu/Shaver Health & Rehabilitation Centre. I was accepted into the program and began early 2013 working with occupational therapists, physiotherapists, kinesiologists, rehab assistants, social workers and a clinical nutritionist. By this time I had been cane dependent for a number of years and one of my goals was to become cane free. I wanted to be able to walk and carry any of my grandchildren at the same time. This program gave me a new lease on life. Training other muscles to compensate for the ones affected by MS has improved my balance and now, depending on fatigue and walking conditions, I am cane free. Because of the uncertainty of MS, I don’t know how long this reprieve will last. While I am able, I would like to give back to these two incredible organizations. The annual Mandarin MS Walk, will be held May 3rd and Jacob & I would like to participate in a slightly different way…………
We heard about a hike/pilgrimage/trek that begins in St. Jean Pied de Port, France and ends 5 weeks, 800 kilometers away in Santiago de Compostella, Spain. After watching the movie, “The Way” and hearing about my uncle’s (Fred Tiesma) experience walking the Camino, Jacob & I decided to challenge ourselves (what were we thinking?!?!). With such an unpredictable disease such as MS, we’ve learned not to procrastinate and to live life to the fullest. I’m asking for your support by sponsoring me for this over-the-top WALK. I have listed the websites of both organizations that I have teamed up with and if you decide you would like to sponsor me, you may choose whichever one you’d like your donation to be directed to. (We are financing this trip ourselves; any monies raised will go directly towards these 2 incredible organizations)
MS Society Donor Site Click “Donate now”
OR PHONE: 905-937-7772
Hotel Dieu Shaver Click on “Donate Online”
OR PHONE: 905-685-1381ext. 84214
Please follow our preparations and journey along with us on my blog; http://louisewesterhof.wordpress.com
Whether or not you are able to sponsor me, please remember us in your prayers.
Louise & Jacob Westerhof