Name:

 

Brandis Graves

Country of residence:

 

USA

Age:

 

31

Occupation:

 

Physical Therapist

Who is accompanying you on the Kilimanjaro climb?

 

Patti Klaassen

When were you diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis?

 

 

 I had an episode several years ago in college, but they were unsure if it was MS or not. I went seven years asymptomatic until I woke up with optic neuritis in November 2009. I went through the testing and was diagnosed at that time.

How has your diagnosis affected your life?

 

I think the label and fear of the unknown of MS has affected me more than anything else. I do not like labels. I have increased fatigue at times and know that I need adequate amounts of sleep.

What is your current level of physical disability (if any)?

 

 

Zero Ė no physical disability.

Please provide a history of your disease and how the disease is now affecting your life?

 

 

My right eye (which had the optic neuritis) bothers me once in a while if I am really stressed or tired.

What are your current views/feelings of your life with Multiple Sclerosis?

 

 

 

Bittersweet. I wish there was a cure so I could rid my body of this disease, however, had I not been diagnosed, I would not have been given this incredible opportunity to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. To many, it seems that the fact that I am climbing it with MS makes it all the more incredible.

How have your relationships with your family/personal/friend relationships been affected by your diagnosis?

 

People seem to worry about me more, my health, which I donít think is necessary. I donít believe in giving the disease any more thought than necessary. Life goes on. You have to keep reaching towards and establishing goals.

What has motivated you to take part in the Kilimanjaro climb?

 

 

 I wanted to do this climb to prove to myself and others that I can still do anything I want to and to encourage others diagnosed that they can still live full, healthy, active lives despite a diagnosis of MS.

What is your previous experience of hiking/climbing?

 

I have no previous experience other than hiking river bluffs for fun!

What are your aspirations/hopes for the Kilimanjaro climb?

 

 

To summit Kilimanjaro! I have been told it is a journey like no other for many reasons and I am excited to be a part of it. I am also looking forward to meeting others on this journey.

What hopes/aspirations do you have planned following the Kilimanjaro climb?

 

 

The sky is the limit. I would like to return home and train for and finish the Twin Cities Marathon in October (which would be my first marathon since officially being diagnosed) and I am open to whatever opportunities might come my way.

Please highlight any other achievements you have made since your diagnosis

 

 

I ran my first two marathons in 2009 and even though I was officially diagnosed in November 2009, my neurologist believes I have lived with the disease since my first episode in college. Following the official diagnosis, I have ran a half marathon and 10-mile race as well.

What would you say to other people who are living with MS?

 

 

Be inspired to take a leap of faith. Set goals, reach to achieve those goals. Always try.