VIDEO: Pride week begins in St. John's
St. John’s Pride holds colourful downtown meet-and-great
Have you heard about the SaltWire News app?
Visit SaltWire.com for more of the stories you want.
SaltWire Selects: Stories you don't want to miss
What you need to know about COVID-19: July 14
Get the latest summer forecast and weather knowledge from Cindy Day
SaltWire's cartoonists bring heart and humour to the news.
It is never easy to be on the receiving end of bad news. It is particularly difficult when your doctor is telling you that you have an autoimmune disorder that will affect you for the rest of your life. And worst of all — there is no known cure.
In 2009, when Kyle Peterson was 32 years old, he received a diagnosis that would forever change the way he approached life.
“I was waking up with complete numbness and loss of strength on the entire left side of my body. It felt like pins and needles were being stuck in my body from the top of my head right down to my toes. I knew something must be wrong so I talked to my doctor. After a series of tests, it took a spinal tap to confirm a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.”
“When the doctor said, ‘you have MS,’ I instantly thought life as I knew it was over, I became very sad and frightened. It took me almost a year to get over the shock and fear of learning of my diagnosis. It was overwhelming and scary every time it felt like my body was changing and with every new symptom, I wasn’t sure if I would recover. There were some dark days in the beginning.”
“My mother gave me a small wooden cross. She told me that whenever I was feeling scared or alone because of my MS to hold it in my hands and pray. She reminded me that God does not give us more than we can handle. It was then that a fire was lit inside me. It said “Kyle — go live your life … take every day as a gift.”
“I had MS, but I was not going to let MS have me. There was a strength inside me I didn’t even know I had, MS was the catalyst I needed to stop sitting on the sidelines watching life pass me by, it forced me to start living.
“I realized I had been focusing on all the things that I couldn’t do. It wasn’t until I changed my way of thinking that I was able to see just how much I could do.”
Since his diagnosis 11 years ago, Peterson has had a few difficult MS-related episodes. He has had periods where his normally hour-long walks each day were reduced to five challenging minutes on the treadmill. Each relapse reminds him that life with MS is unpredictable and can change in an instant.
“In the past I have had to stop working, I have had to stop driving a car. I have had relapses that lasted months, but what always helps is knowing that I got through it before and I will get through it again.”
When asked what advice he would give anyone newly diagnosed with MS, Peterson said he would remind them that they are not alone. They have a lot of people in their life that love them, and it is OK to ask for and receive help.
“I would tell people to remain humble and be kind. Even if you’re feeling angry and upset at the world, don’t let MS change your attitude or your spirit — stay positive.”
Peterson advises people not to stop doing the things they love doing, even if it takes them a little longer.
“I would tell people to listen to your body, it will let you know that maybe you’re doing too much and you need to rest and that is OK. MS is as much a mental challenge as a physical one, it is important to keep yourself upbeat and positive. Realize that when you are going through a relapse know that: this too shall pass and things will get better.”
“I had MS, but I was not going to let MS have me. There was a strength inside me I didn’t even know I had, MS was the catalyst I needed to stop sitting on the sidelines watching life pass me by, it forced me to start living." — Kyle Peterson
He grew up in Birch Grove and now lives in Sydney Mines. He works as a resident care co-ordinator with the Society for the Treatment of Autism Nova Scotia.
He loves the outdoors. He likes boating, swimming, hiking and cooking. He is a kind, considerate and caring man who knows the importance of giving of himself for the betterment of others.
Peterson is a member of St. Matthew Wesley United Church in North Sydney where he sings in the choir alongside his fellow choir member and husband, Mayor Cecil Clarke.
Each year, Peterson takes part in the MS walk. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be a virtual walk to be held on Sunday.
“Despite the situation with COVID-19, I am pleased that the walk will continue even if it is a little different this year. It is an important event that raises much-needed funds for the MS Society of Canada. We are all walking separately, but walking together in our fight to end MS. I have set a personal goal to fundraise $1,000 for this year’s walk.”
When you donate to the MS Walk, your money allows research to find the cause and cure for the disease to continue. Funds also provide services to Canadians with multiple sclerosis and their families.
To help support Peterson in his fundraising efforts, visit mswalks.ca, click the donate button ... click donate to a participant then enter Kyle Peterson. Tax receipts are issued by the MS Society for credit card donations.
Sherry Mulley MacDonald is an author and freelance journalist. She is a lifelong resident of the Northside with a fondness for the community in which she lives.