On MS, and just getting on with it

Tamzin Boyce - Courtesy Photo
Tamzin Boyce
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

When Tamzin Boyce looks back at her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, and then regards her future, she holds onto her neurologist’s refrain: you’ve got to live your life.

“You’re your own advocate, so you do what I do,” she said. “I’m stubborn. I’m a Capricorn, and a typical person with MS in that I have MS, it doesn’t have me.”

This attitude – rather, fortitude – makes her an apt honoree for the second annual Bainbridge Island MS Walk, which takes place this Saturday morning.

Boyce was diagnosed with MS a year and a half ago, while away from her then home base of Seattle. She and her husband, Peter, had met while working on a luxury yacht, he as a marine engineer and she as the hospitality manager. While in port in Florida in October 2006, Boyce woke one day to find that her left heel was numb. The next day, her right heel was numb as well. By the end of day three, her entire body below the breastbone was without feeling.

An MRI confirmed a local neurologist’s suspicion that she had MS, a chronic degenerative disease of the central nervous system that can affect mobility, balance and vision.

Boyce immediately put all her self-described “type A” traits to work and phoned the MS Society’s Seattle branch.

“They just were paramount in support and information,” she said.

Boyce began drug therapy and

also upped her exercise, adding regular swimming to her fitness routine and focusing on general wellness.

Back in Kitsap – the Boyces settled in Suquamish, close to Peter’s Bainbridge family – she heard about the first annual Bainbridge Island MS walk and put her natural organizational proclivity to work.

She sat at tables outside all the major grocery stores, organized day-of-event activities, and all told raised $8,000 for toward MS research and treatmetn – a hefty percentage of the day’s $91,000 take.

“You name it, I was everywhere,” she said.

This year, Boyce has had to cut back a bit on her event-related activities, and her walk pace may be slower on Saturday.

She’s 29 weeks pregnant with the couple’s first child, a state that has her feeling the same mixture of elation and mild panic that most prospective first-time mothers feel.

She’s remained largely asymptomatic during her pregnancy, and while she’s uncertain what life will be like when the baby is born, she’s also counting her blessings.

Sure, she says, she doesn’t like having MS. And she worries about the future. On the other hand, she had 27 years of a typical life, and there’s far too much else to think about.

“In the year and a half since then I’ve had seven minutes of feeling sorry for myself,” she said. “And then I go, ‘Enough. Done.’”

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