A Mother’s MS Inspires Her Daughter to Become a General Practitioner
By Alison Jelden
When Natalie LeMoss was just nine years old, her mother, Kami LeMoss, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The doctors caught the disease early in its progression, and from Natalie’s perspective, her mother seemed fine. Little did Natalie know, MS would impact her family’s life in a major way.
Due to Kami’s increasing difficulty walking and her inability to tolerate any kind of heat, Natalie’s family moved during her freshman year of high school from Sacramento, California to Grants Pass, Oregon. For Natalie’s two younger siblings, a brother who is now fourteen and a sister who is thirteen, the move was easier for them; however, for Natalie it was an adjustment. Natalie states, “The move was very quick; luckily, my entire family lives in Oregon so there’s extra emotional support for everyone.”
The move proved a difficult adjustment for Natalie academically. In California, Natalie was prepared to enroll into the International Baccalaureate degree program, which offers advanced placement for college. Instead, she attended a school with the highest dropout rate in the state.
“I am happy to have moved for my mom and now, due to the transition, I have a greater work ethic than I probably would ever have had in California,” Natalie says.
Over the years, Kami taught her daughter to persevere and to follow her true interests. Since her mother’s diagnosis, Natalie’s passion is to become a general practitioner. Currently, Natalie is a freshman at Cornell University studying human biology, health, and society with minors in global health and psychology. “I’m interested in neurobiology, where a disease affects the brain and behavior, because of my direct connection to MS,” she says.
Today, Kami still has pain in her legs, but she pushes through it every day. Since the move to Oregon, she has worked as a Labradoodle breeder and has attended all of her children’s swim meets, plays, and recitals.
“Sometimes it feels like I could lose the woman I know as my mom any day, especially with the way her short-term memory seems to be disappearing.” Since Cornell University is so far from home, Natalie comes home only for Christmas. In a way, nothing has changed for Natalie when coming home. She’s just as connected with her family as when she lived at home. Natalie adds, “I’m incredibly grateful for the walks we take every day and the time we spend together.”
This scholarship is open to all students who are living with MS or have a parent with MS. High school seniors or current students of higher-education institutions (trade school, community college, or four-year university) may apply.
A Mother-Daughter Bond Launches a Career in Nutrition
By Alison Jelden
Madison “Maddy” Mulhauser is a triple threat: employee, student and dedicated daughter. Maddy juggles two jobs while being a full-time student at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington. At home, she whips up meal plans, creates shopping lists and cleans the house for her mother, Kari, who was diagnosed with MS five years ago.
“I do it all for my mom. She’s my biggest inspiration in life,” Maddy says, noting that her mother was especially influential in her decision to go to college.
One evening after Maddy came home from high school, Kari broke the news of her diagnosis. After months of doctor visits, they finally understood what had been causing Kari’s symptoms.
Initially, Maddy assumed the worst. Afraid of what she might find out, she resisted researching the disease online. “I didn’t know anything about MS and didn’t want to Google it.” The family instead learned together, by watching educational videos on how families deal with MS.
Through Kari’s MS experience, Maddy has learned how to be independent. “I’m like a second mother. This experience in my life has allowed me to bring out my motherly tendencies; I love to do anything I can to help out around the house such as holiday decorating, meal preparation or general household tasks.”
Maddy’s path to becoming a nutritionist originally developed from her mother’s dietary restrictions due to MS. When Kari had to change her diet, Maddy decided to take action. She created new recipes to provide delicious, nutritious meals for dinner. “We cook together and eat together so dinner is really special for us,” Maddy explains.
As part of their healthy lifestyle, the pair work out regularly and walk together every year at Vancouver Walk MS. The mother-daughter duo will walk for the 4th year in a row on team “Fifty Shades of K,” which raised $2,000 for MS research in 2015.
“I look up to my mom not only for her dedication to her work and community, but also for her ability to recognize her MS symptoms and turn to her family for support,” Maddy adds.
The Society scholarship provided Maddy and her family the financial support to pay a majority of her local community college tuition. Maddy notes, “Without this scholarship, I wouldn’t have the resources to save up money and eventually transfer to a four-year university.”
The National MS Society Scholarship is now available to view online. This scholarship is open to all students who are living with MS or have a parent with MS. High school seniors or current students of higher-education institutions (trade school, community college, or four-year university) may apply.
2015 MS Society Scholarship Recipients: Lindsey Lambert
A Mother’s MS Treatment Inspires a Daughter’s Career Path
By Emily Dings
During the fall semester of Lindsey Lambert’s freshman year at the University of Oregon, her mother, Beth Smith, was diagnosed with MS. “My parents didn’t want to worry me during finals week,” she says, so they waited until after her last exam to deliver the news.
What had initially manifested as a possible stroke, with symptoms such as double vision, was now clearly MS. “The progression was shocking,” Lindsey notes, and confusing to the whole family. Beth, until that winter an active, independent social worker, suddenly had trouble speaking, swallowing, and walking. By that Christmas, she needed a wheelchair, could no longer drive, and depended on her husband and daughter for help with basic household tasks.
Lindsey stayed close to her mother in the months that followed, balancing schoolwork with making meals, running errands, and performing tasks involving reading and typing. She also witnessed first hand Beth’s various courses of neurological therapy.
Working with speech and physical therapists, Beth, who was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), improved dramatically in the course of just sixty days. Four months post-diagnosis, she was able to drive, go for long walks, and return to work. “Her personality helped her improve,” Lindsey adds.
Beth, who facilitates international adoptions from China, was highly motivated to return to the office. “She’s a caring, kind person. She wanted to get back to work and help people.”
Back at school, Lindsey, a biology major, pursued an internship in an outpatient neurological rehabilitation clinic at PeaceHealth’s Sacred Heart Hospital. Shadowing a therapist who works with stroke and MS patients, she was moved in particular by the therapist’s work with an MS patient who complained of hand pain. As in her mother’s case, occupational therapy improved the symptom dramatically over a series of sessions.
Now a senior, Lindsey is applying to graduate programs in occupational therapy, inspired in large part by the therapists who were so instrumental to her mother’s improvement. Reflecting on her family’s experience following Beth’s diagnosis, she singles out seeking help and keeping a positive attitude as key coping mechanisms. “It’s important to have good support system, and to be really hopeful,” Lindsey notes. “Symptoms can improve drastically even when you don’t expect it.”
Learn More About the National MS Society Scholarship Program
Emily Dings is an editor and freelance writer living in Portland, Oregon. She aspires to one day join a Bike MS team.