Nikki was first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2002. “There was a sense of relief to have answers, but at the same time, it was life-shattering,” she said. “I was 17 years old. I felt like my life was ending. Then I turned to God. I said, God if this is going to make me stronger, I'm ready.”
When she was diagnosed, it was recommended that she attend a support group, which she did, but she decided it wasn’t for her. But after she married her husband, he encouraged her to try again, and from there, both became more involved with the National MS Society, Mid America Chapter (NMSS), one of the 21 CHAD member charities.
Nikki’s husband is in charge of the Walk MS for the area, and Nikki co-facilitates the support group with Dixie Zoucha. MS is becoming a more widely known illness, Nikki explained, and she encourages those who have been diagnosed with MS and haven’t attended a support group meeting to try it, as it makes a difference. “We need each other. We encourage, support and rally around our members. We fight for you and help you fight for yourself.”
According to Nikki, the support group is so much like a family, and her support group stepped up to care for her and her family when Nikki was put on bedrest when she was pregnant with twins. “The group organized a surprise baby shower for me that we held over skype and it really brightened my day. Support groups really are amazing.”
Nikki also credits the MS Society for being there for her in other ways, too, including finding resources to support her and her family and providing innovations in therapies and care. “Being 34 and looking back, the advances in therapies is unbelievable. When I was diagnosed there were three disease-modifying therapies. Now there are 16 or 17,” she said.