I met Misti in the EVEN Hotel (a runner's paradise) lobby in Brooklyn the morning of the 2018 NYC Half Marathon. I had called for a taxi, was nervously waiting and offered Misti to ride with me. Of course, the taxi never came. We stuck together and navigated the NYC Subway with a mother/daughter duo we'd also met in the lobby. We swapped stories and names and post race I managed to track Misti down on Facebook. We met for coffee the next morning, and thus the inspiration and creation of this blog feature. -Jessica Lea Nolette (blog creator)
In many of my blogs, I've mentioned hardships in life becoming blessings in personal growth and achievement. Can you tell us about your diagnosis of MS and how it's lead you to run marathons and advocacy?
I was diagnosed with MS in February 2011 when I was about 214 pounds. My husband Jason and I were in the depths of fertility treatments, and I was in a state of depression with our struggle to become parents. Between the fertility treatments, depression, and eating, I was a mess. Then boom. I found out I had MS. It started with pain in my left eye, to which I ignored for weeks. Then, I woke up one day with numbness and tingling on the left side (head, arm, leg) of my body. I couldn't get into visit my family doctor, so I saw his nurse practitioner. I assumed I would just be given a steroid pack and be on my merry way but she insisted on an emergency MRI, to which, I obliged. I had the MRI at 11 am that Friday morning and by 4:07 pm on the same Friday my doctor's office called and on the other end was my doctor's voice. He asked me if I was driving, to which I said, no. He asked if I was home alone, to which I said, yes. He asked me to sit down, to which, I did not. I paced the living room for what seemed was hours and was only second's. At that point, he informed me I had the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis.
I was never a runner. In September of 2014, at 214 pounds, I hired a trainer, and one month later I ran for the very first time. It was a 5k. :-)
I was SO proud of myself. A former client of mine emailed me in November of 2014 to try to get a spot on the National MS Team to run the NYC Half Marathon. I basically, laughed. I thought to myself how adorable she was to EVEN think I could ever do such a long run. I wrote my story and never expected to ever hear from anyone about it. A few weeks later I received an email saying I was on the team and it changed my life.
Can you give us a brief background about MS? What is it and how many people are affected by this disease?
Multiple Sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. It's referred to as the "snowflake" disease because no two people with MS are alike with their symptoms. It affects around 400,000 people in the US and mostly women.
How has this experience positively affected your relationship with your family, friends, and community?
I only spent a few days feeling sad for myself. I stayed off the internet and instead bought books to help educate my family and myself. The internet can be a very dark, depressive place. I was adamant about not using the internet to research a disease I knew nothing about, and I had. The diagnosis changed me! It's important to state it changed me for the better. My family and friends have become my support system. They have helped raise awareness, money and lifted me up when I sometimes feel down. Our son was born after the diagnosis, so MS is what he knows of me and he will never recall a time I didn't have it. Since he was a baby he's gone to MS Walks with me. I speak to him often about MS so he is never scared. He knows he can come to me with any questions today, or any day, no matter how old he is. He's excited to go to Cleveland Clinic with me in May for a follow-up visit so he can meet the doctors and infusion nurses who take care of his mommy. It's important to me he understands what happens when I leave town for treatment and is never scared.
My community is amazing. They refer to me as "Mighty Misti!" Many people have reached out to me with their own stories. Most of all, my community truly cares about me, and that in itself inspires me.
When did you realize you wanted to advocate for MS and share your personal story with others?
It was shortly after my diagnosis that I knew I wanted to advocate and share my story. My heart told me this was something that was important and I listened. Seven years later, I wouldn't change a thing. I have raised money, awareness and advocation is my new passion. I have gotten to tell my story to MS doctors and MS researchers at Cleveland Clinic. The same people who work tirelessly on a cure have heard me speak, and that makes everything come full circle.
Aside from running, what are some of your other passions?
Besides running, I am an adoption advocate as well. I also work very hard to incorporate exercise into my daily routine. I have learned the importance of food choices for myself and family. I lost 50 pounds. I live a fairly clean life of eating, juicing and exercising.
Of course, my number one passion is our 5-year-old son, Maxin. I think he has inspired me the most. I want him to know that no matter the hand you are dealt, you get to decide what you make of it. He sees me run long distances, tackle spartan races and thinks I'm a total superhero. All the while, he's the real superhero. He doesn't remember I have MS every day, just on days I feel extra sick and pats my head and brings me ice packs. The truest of love from a 5-year-old.
How important is goal setting for you?
Goal setting is tremendously important to me. It seriously gets me out of bed in the morning. It offers me a structure that I crave. Everyone should have a goal no matter how big or small.
What is your proudest personal and professional accomplishment?
My proudest personal accomplishment is when we adopted Maxin at birth. We have an amazing adoption story that is forever ours.
Also, when I completed The NYC Half Marathon and The NYC Marathon, both in 2015.
Misti is the owner of Little Black Dress Events
What is something not many people know about you?
Not many people know sometimes, I can be consumed with anxiety. It is never a great place to be. Also, after losing 50 pounds, I am definitely harder on myself and my body image.
I'd like to share a message with the world on your behalf, what should I share?
What is your favorite motivational/inspirational quote?
“You either get bitter or you get better. It's that simple. You either take what has been dealt to you and allow it to make you a better person, or you allow it to tear you down. The choice does not belong to fate, it belongs to you.” - John Shipp
In one word describe yourself: