What a long way I've come since I got the news… And all my projects have never stopped growing…

After a start punctuated by too many outbreaks, I have had to adapt, and change job, for sure, but also carry on with a professional life that's different from what I had imagined… slow down… to go a longer way. And then, since 2000, the fits have been less frequent, with some steroid injections back in 2007, and then again only in 2010.

Today only a few scars are visible, and yet these are enough for me not to forget… and I continue to be relatively well… maybe I'm lucky. There are highs and lows of course, and unfortunately, with this disease you have to have more than just willingness. Just wanting something in order to get it would be much too easy! Unfortunately we have no control on the progress of this illness. All you can do is try and do everything you can to get prepared and whenever possible to continue to move forward.

Now, I tend to look after myself much more, to take care of myself and do what pleases me really. And now, I have just been offered to climb to a mountain's top, just as I used to do! I would never have thought this would have happened ever again. I had clearly been told that I could forget about climbing. But how could I ever forget this feeling, these moments of well being, the silence, the fulfillment?! Today, treatments have changed and so have the words of the doctors. Everything they used to forbid you to do before is now considered beneficial: sport as therapy, and I have always believed in this, and as a matter of fact I had continued to practise sports, if only to stimulate the brains to create new connections.

So today, I am choosing to take up the challenge to climb to the summit of this highly symbolic mount: Toubkal, Morocco, 4,167 meters high…

Firstly, to thumb my nose to the past: my climbing the Toubkal is something like a vengeance for all the projects I had to give up.

Secondly, just out of sheer pleasure, as I am a keen rock and high summit climber…

Thirdly, to go beyond my own limitations and to prove to myself that this is still possible, it must be…

Fourthly for the extraordinary experience that this adventure will be… A marvelous moment of sharing.

But also, because I want to bring a glimmer of hope to those who had only recently been diagnosed but also to the people like me who have had MS for a longer time. Presumptuous… yes! And perhaps, at the same time, change the image society has of this illness.

And finally, joining this project is for me a way of integrating the pathology, perhaps so as it does not get me down too soon. But then it really is part of me, whether I let it show or not: it's part of my life, of my life story, of my daily routine too, without trivializing it. It's only been three years that I have given up on hiding myself, I'm now trying to show myself as I really am. And only three years I have dared talk about it and look at the other MS patients, as until then I had been too scared to look at how I might become.

So for my son who was born in 2004 I want to carry on being well. And in fact, for the first time ever, in 2007, I took part, with him, in an activity organised by the Belgian MS association, and thereby stopped playing ostrich or refusing to see a reality that I found inconvenient. He gave me a fresh surge of energy and a new impetus, and helped me open up to other people. How much progress that is! My priorities too have changed. I think I now take more responsibility for my choices and I continue to move forward, as much as possible. Carried by this enthusiasm, I remain as optimistic as ever (which I agree is easy when all goes well) and that is something no one can take away from me, that willingness I have to go forward and that love of moving about that I have. That's just me! So, why not? It's still well within my range and as long as it's possible, I go for it. So, "yes, we can!"

Oh, and I'm Marylène, I'm 41 years old, and yes, life still smiles at me!

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