Name:

 

Kristy Banaszak

Country of residence:

 

USA

Age:

 

49

Occupation:

 

I provide customer service regarding employee benefits to an insurance brokerís clients.

Who is accompanying you on the Kilimanjaro climb?

 

My friend, Susie Weber, who also has MS. Weíve been planning and training for this climb together.

My companion hiker is Connie Kemmerer.

When were you diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis?

2005

How has your diagnosis affected your life?

 

Iíd call my diagnosis a reality check. I hate to admit it, but I thought I could be Ďsuper womaní. I didnít want to disappoint anyone, so Iíd push myself even at the expense of my health. I now realize that I canít be Ďsuper womaní doing it all. Iíve learned to make choices and prioritize. Iíve also learned to take time to enjoy the small things in life. I appreciate my family and friends in a new way.

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

 

When people find out I have MS, they seem surprised and say they would never have guessed I have MS. My physical symptoms arenít usually visible. 

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

 

 

I had symptoms prior to my diagnosis like numbness and tingling on my left side, vision loss in my right eye, and lack of mental clarify. These symptoms werenít constant but finally couldnít be ignored when I had a dizzy spell at work and couldnít get up for 10 minutes. I had an MRI and met with a neurologist. After more testing, he diagnosed me with MS and prescribed an injectable medication.  My first year on the medication was difficult but my symptoms began resolving. I just finished my sixth year on an injectable medication and while my original symptoms are basically gone, some symptoms still recur due to fatigue, heat and stress.

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

 

I believe that MS is a blessing to me. The challenges and struggles of living with MS have helped me grow in new ways.

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

My family and friends have been very supportive. Iíve learned a new level of honesty and trust.

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

 

 

Iíve wanted to climb Kilimanjaro since I was in high school. Due to college, career, family and financial responsibilities, I put this goal aside. When I was diagnosed with MS in 2005, I could barely walk around the block. I stopped thinking of Kilimanjaro as a realistic goal. When I read that Lori Schneider was planning this MS climb, I contacted her for more information. Lori is such an inspiration and she helped me believe that I can do this. 

What is your previous experience of hiking/climbing?

 

My husband and I spent our two-week honeymoon hiking different trails in the Rockies. We started in Mt. Mary, Montana and then drove to Banff, Canada.

What are your aspirations/hopes for the Kilimanjaro climb?

 

 

Iím looking forward to being surrounded by so many amazing, positive people. I hope to learn more about how others are living with MS. I also think Iíll learn more about myself.

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

 

 

Iíd like to share my experience and what Iíve learned with others. I hope to encourage anyone who is facing challenges in their life and I also want to remain as physically active as possible.

Please highlight any other achievements you have made since your diagnosis

 

 

I like to focus on what I can do, not on my limitations. I learned to give myself injections even though I used to faint when I got shots or had blood drawn. I was working part-time when I was diagnosed, but I returned to full-time work in a new field one year after my diagnosis. Getting out of bed and driving 40 minutes to my job is like climbing a mountain every day!

 

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

 

 

Every person (with or without MS) is unique. Donít compare yourself to anyone. Share your special qualities with others. Set your own goals and appreciate every achievement.