All About Multiple Sclerosis

More MS news articles for August 2003

Laurie Stanley is Named "Middle Tennessee MS Mother of the Year"

http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?BRD=1614&dept_id=515334&newsid=9991602&PAG=461&rfi=9

August 11, 2003
By: Linda Dunham
The Tullahoma News

After spending just a few minutes in the company of Laurie Stanley and Pat Hartway of Winchester, one would surely notice a very special relationship between these sisters.
Both happen to have Multiple Sclerosis (MS), but their bond goes beyond their shared ailment.

After spending just a few minutes in the company of Laurie Stanley and Pat Hartway of Winchester, one would surely notice a very special relationship between these sisters.
Both happen to have Multiple Sclerosis (MS), but their bond goes beyond their shared ailment.

Pat recently submitted a letter to the MS Association to nominate her 34-year-old sister, Laurie, for "MS Mother of the Year" in the Middle Tennessee area. The words she wrote in that letter spoke of the admiration and love she has for her sister as she observes the hardships she faces, her dedication to family, her sense of humor through the hard times and her everyday fears and triumphs in dealing with MS while raising a family of three children.

Amy Brown, Vice-President of Programs for the Mid South Chapter of the MS Society, visited from Nashville, showing up at Laurie's doorstep for a surprise visit last Thursday morning to present the award of "MS Mother of the Year in Middle Tennessee."

It all came as a complete surprise to Laurie, who seemed dumbfounded when this stranger rang her doorbell, carrying two bundles of beautiful pink roses, one for Laurie and one for Pat and donuts for the children, who, along with the rest of the family, had managed to keep the whole thing a secret from their mother. Laurie says she knew something secretive was going on, but admits she didn't know it was something so wonderful.

Amy was pleased at Laurie's reaction to the distinguished presentation and happy that the family managed to keep the award a surprise. She has a good understanding of the struggles MS patients go through and provides counseling support to them.

"It is extremely difficult to live with an incurable (but treatable) chronic illness," Amy said. "This little fun program 'Mother and Father of the Year' can make life a little sweeter! We know that Laurie's example of a great mom will make the next person's new diagnosis seem not so scary. She has shown that you can still be a wonderful mom, sister, woman, wife and have MS."

As she sat at her kitchen table among the bouquets of roses looking befuddled but pleased, Laurie said, "I knew something was up, but I didn't know what. I thought the kids were up to something, wanting to do something special or something like that. I couldn't figure it out. I didn't think it was all about me!"

Pat and Laurie brushed away tears as Pat struggled for composure to read the winning letter of nomination she'd written while the children looked on. In her humble, unselfish way, Laurie interrupted Pat as she read the nomination letter to her, asking, "Well, why didn't you tell me about this (MS Mother of the Year contest) so I could enter your name too?"

When she'd finished reading the letter, they hugged and wiped away more tears. Pat, who also has MS, went on to elaborate on their special bond, saying, "Laurie's eyesight comes and goes because of the MS and my memory's isn't so great because of my MS, but she has a great memory, so she's my memory when mine is fuzzy and I'm her eyes on days when she can't see."

Laurie was diagnosed with MS almost a decade ago and has learned to cope with many of the symptoms of the disease, which are different for everyone, including the vague tiredness and aches and pains, problems with the medications, and, most extreme of all, the vision problems. She is currently learning from a therapist how to cope in a sightless world when her vision fades out.

Through it all, she is a shining example for Pat who has watched her continue to participate actively in the lives of her children, Jeremy 17, Lindsay 15 and Jeffrey "Little Buddy," age seven, helping them with their scouting, Little League, getting driver's licenses and homework.

The nomination went on to describe Laurie, in Pat's words... "She tries to be there for everyone around her, to listen, to help everyone else. She has been giving over 30 years. She speaks her mind and keeps going...actually she is bad about going over her limit!"

Pat, who knows the importance of humor in the most difficult situations, says her sister is the 'clown of the family' and always funny. She's not appreciated enough and I'd like to have her get this attention. Attention that she doesn't even know that she deserves. She's very comical and she never gives up!"
 

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