My name is Natasha Cervi and I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in October 2014. At that time I was serving active duty in the United States Army. Although, it wasn’t long after my diagnosis, I was honorably retired from my duties.
It was the “grey” blindness in my left eye that began it all. Five days prior to deployment and I’m going through a relapse, who would have known! From there, my MS battle began. I was on Gilenya for a year and half, but had no immune system. It put me at risk for the PML virus and although rare, scared me to death. So I went all natural in battling this disease through exercise and nutrition.
The relapses and lesions are still a part of my life but not nearly as bad as my first year. I was relapsing every four months and because of this I thought the progression was soon to be drastic. Thankfully, I was wrong! I visit the doctor every six months to report any changes and have a yearly MRI to keep track of active lesions so I can closely monitor my symptoms. My MS wasn’t always this controlled though. I went through denial, I tried to forget it and I even became depressed from it. MS changed my life.
Three years ago, I was scared to tell a soul about my newly found disease but within this past year I have become so passionate about showing others like myself a positive way of living with despite MS. Taking the medications only made me sicker and so I found a way to improve my own symptoms. I became vegetarian a year ago (2016) and I found a way to replace almost all my favorite food with new veggie favorites.
Since the lifestyle change, I feel like I’m in the prime of my life. It’s true that when you learn your MS you are able to listen and respond. Some days I’m fatigued but have enough juice to push my limits. Where on other days my fatigue feels like it smacks me in the face. These are the days I know I must cater to my body. For me, the only way to do this is to get out there and push myself. I like to look at it as if I took the fear out of my circumstances and defined my MS.
So when you look at me now, in shape and beating MS, don’t let the outcome of this hard work confuse you as unrealistic for you. If you put the work into fighting MS like David Lyons, I and the many people around the world have chosen to do, the rewards are not impossible but probable!
You see even as a child I was always outside and active. In school, I was always juggling between multiple sports. Then, in the military, I learned multiple ways to work out my body. Working out has always been something I enjoyed but it wasn’t until I got diagnosed that it turned into a passion of mine shared by the thousands of trainers and athletes working towards an end goal, a satisfactory moment in time when their hard work pays off. That’s when I realized, I was different. I’m doing this for my life. Working out is my medicine in terms of controlling my symptoms. In addition to that, it makes me feel alive. I took control of MS about a year ago and because of that I’ve gained control of my body.
Working out has helped me learn the biomechanics of my body and has taught me my own limits. It also is a release for all my built up stress and the mood swings that MS can be known for. This is why it’s so important for me to show others that this disease or any obstacle for that matter does not have to put a stop to your life.
It’s important to me that I reach those who have lost hope and show them a new way. It’s not easy and not every day is going to be rewarding. Some days you will want to give up but the good days remind you why you don’t. And being part of the MS Fitness Challenge team enables me to have many good days!!