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Meet - Kathy Chester

California, USA

When were you diagnosed with MS? 2000

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?

I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) over 20 years ago. Physical fitness has always been a significant aspect of my life. I became an aerobics and boot camp coach and later went on to manage various fitness studios. In 2015, I founded Disrupt Fitness Gym, a program that combines circuit and interval training to create a highly effective workout routine. My MS symptoms initially presented as numbness in my hands and feet, migraines, and cognitive difficulties. Throughout the years, I have undergone several treatments and disease-modifying therapies (DMTs), including Avonex, steroids, chemotherapy, Tysabri, and currently Ocrevus. These experiences have reinforced my conviction that exercise and physical activity are essential for optimal health, strength, and mobility.

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

My MS symptoms include Optic Neuritis, Drop Foot, Bladder Issues, Fibromyalgia, Numbness in Hands and Feet, Cognitive Issues, and Migraines.

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

As the years have gone by, I believe our support systems change throughout the years. Our parent's age, sometimes we move to different geographic locations, and our family dynamics change. With that beings said, I am truly grateful for my husband and close friends who have supported me through the years.

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

I have a cane that I only need to use on a limited basis, due to my exercise program. I also use an AFO for drop foot. But, I truly believe exercise and movement help hold off the extreme adverse effects of this disease.

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

Faith plays a pivotal role in my life, and I heavily rely on it. My daily routine consists of prayer, Bible plans, and devotionals, which keep me in good spirits. Additionally, I exercise daily as well as, I offer a Movement and Exercise Program for MSer's called Disrupt, Move and Transform (DMAT) which is part of my MS Disrupted Community. I also try to get a massage at least once a Month.

#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?

My choice to become physically active following my diagnosis was a life-changing decision that literally save my life. When most individuals are newly diagnosed, they are given a glossy pamphlet that advises them to conserve their energy, take it easy, and guess what? They usually end up in a wheelchair in 5 years. However, I refused to accept this as my fate and made a conscious decision to "Run" the disease out of me by engaging in running and fully immersing myself in movement, fitness, and exercise. My guidance to those who are recently diagnosed is to keep MOVING and never STOP!

#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?

Yes! I used to own and operate a fitness studio called Disrupt Fitness in Berkley, MI which I had to close during the pandemic. During that time I decided to shift my fitness training efforts and I began focusing on MS'ers and the Autoimmune population. I developed the DMAT Fitness Training Program and the MS Disrupted Community. Helping those with MS become stronger has become my life's mission. I currently offer One on One Personal Training as well as, a Zoom Group Fitness Training. In 2022 I started a podcast called Move or Lose It - a Podcast where I focus on interviewing patients, doctors, and influential people in the MS Community. I also started an MS Women's Support Group called Women who Disrupt MS, endorsed by MSFocus and the MS Foundation. Additionally, via Social Media I produce "Moves of the Day" and for March I will be hosting "Free" Mini Workout and Stretching sessions via Facebook and Instagram Live.

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