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Meet - Azizah Hawkins

New York, USA

When were you diagnosed with MS? May 2007

What type of MS do you have? Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS)

#1: Can you tell us a little about your journey with MS. How did you feel about your initial diagnosis and how it has affected your life?

When I received my initial diagnosis, I was shocked. I had limited knowledge about MS, apart from about 1 or 2 celebrities who had mentioned having it, but I didn't have a clear understanding of the condition. As a result, my family, friends, and I dedicated a significant amount of time to conducting thorough research on Multiple Sclerosis.

MS has improved my ability to learn how to adapt and manage stress. I have become an expert. The exacerbations (flare-ups) do not always last forever. So I have learned ways to counteract, fight, or regain control of whatever has gone haywire. I have also learned how "stress" is the root of all evil. Stress can cause the body to go into a frenzy and it is the common denominator in all ailments. So, it's important to try to be stress-free as much as possible!

#2: What MS symptoms do you have and how do you manage them on a daily basis?

My MS symptoms are constant numbness and tingling in my hands 24/7, and imbalance when I walk sometimes. I have learned how to adapt to the numbness and tingling in my hands and remain hopeful that someday it will go away. I utilize self-talk to deal with the stress of it and I refuse to give up. For the balance issue when I walk sometimes, I will hold my boyfriend's hand, and use a shopping cart or a scooter to help when shopping. I am preparing to get a cane and bedazzle it for times of need, so I can walk in style.

#3: Who/What has been your most important support system?

My family and friends have been my biggest sources of support. They ask questions and know not to assume. They took the time to learn about MS with me and they understand the fact that MS is not the same for everybody who has it.

#4: Do you use any accessories like canes, walkers, or wheelchairs to manage daily activities?

I am preparing to bedazzle a cane to use when needed.

#5: How do you stay positive and motivated in your daily life? What do you do for self-care?

I stay positive and motivated by knowing MS is not a death sentence. I do not hold expectations because every day is different for me. What physically bothered me yesterday, may not bother me today. I have become used to that and I just adapt. For self-care, I write, hang out with my boyfriend, relax at home, and enjoy different self-maintenance activities (ex: pedicures, massages, and other beauty activities).

#6: Your story and experiences with MS are incredibly valuable and can provide encouragement and motivation to others in the community. What words of advice or encouragement would you give to someone who is newly diagnosed with MS or going through a challenging time right now?

Multiple Sclerosis is a disease, but, it's not the end of your life. Continue to live your life and adapt to whatever may seem to be an issue for the day, hour, or minute. Never let MS take control of you. Fight and never give up!

#7: Have you started a business or mission related to MS? Can you tell us about it and what inspired you to take this step?

When I was diagnosed with MS, I was a full-figured fashion model. I always told myself, "I will walk the runway until I cannot walk anymore!" I helped start a modeling company with one of my closest friends. We taught teens and adults modeling techniques, poses, and management. Modeling helps to build their self-esteem and confidence, and it has inspired me to see people bloom into themselves.

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