Lieza Vanden Broeke – Scientist

In January 2017 I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). My world was turned completely upside down but it’s not stopping me.

Prior to my diagnosis, I was a competitive horse-rider and runner. In the peak of my marathon training I remember running 140km in one week. I was in my 7th year of University studying  for my PhD in Medical Physics when I was diagnosed with MS.

I could no longer ride horses (very well at least), and I could no longer run. Initially it felt very unfair and I was angry. Why did this have to happen to me? Someone who loved being active and was so close to graduating with a PhD. But no one deserves to have MS.

I love travelling, and to make myself feel better, I went on a trip to China. I returned to be a full-time student, but I still couldn’t run.

To keep myself sane I started lifting weights at the gym. I did everything in my power to help my body. I fed it well, I kept it moving and I stayed positive. I had to learn to prioritise myself more. I became better at time management. I rested when I could, but I always prioritised my body.

Some days I may not feel like going to the gym, and all I want to do is eat pizza, watch a movie, and sleep. But then I remember that my body is sensitive. What I put in, I get out. If I want a body that can move and think clearly, I need to move it and I need to feed it well.

I know that my MS will never take over my life. A positive mind is the most powerful thing in the world. I believe that if I put my mind to it, I can do anything.

I still try to go for short runs, though these days I run a few hundred metres a week instead of 140km. I go to the gym 3 to 4 times a week. I graduated university with a PhD in Medical Physics, without needing an extension. I have travelled to India, Nepal, Australia, Sweden, Lithuania and Belgium since that trip to China. I have a full-time job that I love. I live my life to the fullest and take any opportunity that comes my way.

In some ways I am glad that MS happened to me, instead of to someone who couldn’t cope as well as me.

I may have MS, but MS will never have me.

To read more stories see My Story. My Strength. My MS.