Family battling MS shares story, hoping to bring awareness
ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind.- A Michiana family is speaking up on their journey toward awareness of what they call an invisible disease.
In Indiana and Michigan, almost 30,000 people have self-identified as battling with MS, according to the National MS Society.
Leah Sideritz and her mother Stefanie Woodrick shared their story with ABC57, in hopes of helping others understand what MS really is.
Since they attended a MS conference in Denver, their main goal is to make sure people know what they’re donating to.
“We had no idea what MS was at the time,” says Woodrick. 14 years ago she was diagnosed with a disease that ended up changing her life.
“I was thinking the absolute worst that it would be something like ALS. I had no idea what I was in for, the treatment or how I would be diagnosed,” Woodrick remembers.
Her daughter, Leah, was 12 at the time. Att that age, she was confused on what this diagnosis really meant. “I couldn’t see it. She didn’t lose her hair like you do for cancer and I couldn’t actually see the MS, because it’s an invisible disease,” she says. “I just didn’t know what it was.”
“MS, they believe, is an auto immune disease,” says Woodrick. “They don’t have a cure. They don’t know how you get it.”
Before the diagnosis, Woodrick would suffer from migraine headaches, slurred words, “My biggest challenges are my balance and my cogitative issues.”
Over the years, Sideritz noticed MS affecting her mother more and more. That’s when she asked herself, ‘What can I do to make a difference?’
At last year’s MS Walk her efforts were brought to light. “We raised over $14,000, we had 85 team members and we’re actually one of the largest organized teams in the state of Indiana.”
Sideritz says it’s less about the money raised and more about the effect of those dealing with MS.
“It’s more about bringing awareness to MS,” says Sideritz. “I want everyone that’s on our team to know what it is we’re walking for.”
Awareness brings hope and hope brings strength to individuals like these two.
“I don’t want anyone to have to deal with it,” says Woodrick.
“I do what I do because my mom’s my hero and I know we will see a cure in this lifetime,” says Sideritz. “When we do I want to say that I was part of it.
In Michiana there’s a committee for the MS Walk, which is held the first weekend in May.