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Can-Do Multiple Sclerosis
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We all try to focus on the things we can do in spite of multiple sclerosis rather than those which we no longer can. Wetryto do that… but not always successfully. As I’m just back a week from a trip to the site of the last Winter Olympiad, I’ve been pondering the legacy of a man with MS whose driving focus was on what he still could do.
Though not an Alpine skier myself (though I used to revel in Nordic — cross-country — skiing and snowshoeing), I’ve enjoyed watching the sport for as long as I can remember. Before I can remember, notably because I wasn’t yet born, there was an American downhill skier who raced down hills faster than his countrymen ever had before. Along with the memorably named Billy Kidd, Jimmie Heuga became the first Americans to medal in the Olympic Men’s Slalom (garnering silver and bronze, respectively in the same event) in 1964 at Innsbruck, Austria.
Just six years later, Jimmie was diagnosed with MS and told to avoid physical activity to preserve his health and to better “manage his condition.” Unlike many diagnosed at the time, Jimmie ignored this advice and developed his own regimen of exercise and nutrition to help him cope with his disease.
Remember, this is over two decades before drugs for MS were even being tested.
Jimmie also focused himself on positive attitude. He focused on what hecoulddo rather than what he could no longer accomplish. In short, Jimmie Heuga continued with the “Can Do” attitude that got him into the rarified air of the Olympic athlete.
It was fitting then that not long after Jimmie passed away (on the eve of the Olympics held at the venue I visited last week), the directors of the Jimmie Heuga Center for MS renamed the organization “.”
You may or may not have heard of Can Do Multiple Sclerosis, but either way I’d encourage you all to have a look at their site. I know many people who have visited their physical center in Colorado. I know many more who have benefitted from programs, services and research they offer on-line and via mail.
Like you, I am always on the lookout for something which not only helps me make sense of this senseless disease, but also for people who understand the difference between “can do” and Pollyanna. Can Do Multiple Sclerosis is steeped in the traditions of a man who knew that, with hard work, almost anything was possible… and that even those things not surmountable with work, could be eased by attitude.
Wishing you and your family the best of health.
Don’t forget that you can also follow me via my , on , and our new group on . Check out our bi-monthly blog I'm doing for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of the United Kingdom, , as well as our very special new monthly blog for the .
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