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More MS news articles for June 2003

She's not dancing around her illness

Billerica woman not letting MS beat her,1413,105~4761~1472570,00.html

Monday, June 23, 2003 - 12:04:52 PM EST
Dennis Shaughnessey, Sun Staff
Lowell Sun

The future held a world of possibilities for Taryn Munson.

A dancer since the age of 4, Taryn had performed at many different levels, even dancing at Super Bowl XXX. She minored in dance at Arizona State University. She spent four summers traveling with the Boston Crusaders Drum and Bugle Corps and two summers with the Santa Clara Vanguard, for which she performed in 30 states and Canada.

After graduating, she traveled throughout the United States, Mexico and Japan with Up With People.

Then came the bad news. Last August, Taryn was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

"I'm not dancing anymore," said the 24-year-old daughter of Robert and Terri Munson of Billerica. "I've lost the coordination in my left hand and my right leg, and there is numbness from my shoulder all the way down to my leg."

But Taryn is a fighter, and she's determined to do what she can to beat the odds.

"I was diagnosed early, so I was able to start medication right away," she said. "I walk every day, sometimes three to four miles, and I practice yoga, tai chi and Pilates.

"Sometimes I get down, but I try to keep a good outlook. A lot of it is taking a day-to-day approach."

She has learned to adapt to the changes, which include giving herself weekly injections that reduce the number of lesions in the central nervous system by 37 percent.

Her mother recalls the first time Taryn gave herself an injection.

"Her hands were shaking so badly she had to practice on an orange. But she's not the kind of person to just sit back and let the disease progress without doing everything possible to slow it down," Terri Munson said.

In September, Taryn will try to complete the 50-mile MS Challenge Walk on Cape Cod. She will be joined by her parents, her brother, Glen, and her boyfriend, Dan.

Before the walk, a fund-raiser is planned for July 19 at the Brunswick Zone Bowling Alley on Pawtucket Boulevard in Lowell.

"Mike Gaul has graciously offered the use of his bowling alley, and companies and local establishments have donated prizes like getaway weekends, Red Sox tickets, dinner certificates and movie passes," Terri Munson said. "People have been spectacular. Now all we need is bowlers."

To participate, each bowler needs to bring in $50 for the National MS Society. They can get pledges from friends, family and co-workers, or they can make a $50 tax-deductible donation themselves.

"She's a great kid," said her mom. "She'll be there with a smile on her face, working hard, as usual, and showing the world that she won't let multiple sclerosis stop her from enjoying her life."

For more information call the Bowl To Strike Out MS hotline at (978) 663-2133 or visit the Web site at

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