What do you do to get away and relax?

We have very active teenagers at home and I love supporting them in their activities in any way I can. Otherwise I play a lot of tennis. I’m not on a high level team but on a team of women diligently working on their game and supporting one another.

When she was diagnosed with MS in June 2000, Janet Thomas was so concerned about how it would change her life that she offered her fiancé at the time, whom she was set to marry in July, an “out”. “Knowing that the typical vows include ‘in sickness and in health’, I felt that this diagnosis wasn’t a fair burden for him. He wasn’t daunted and never paused in his commitment to our future. Eighteen years and two beautiful children later, I’m thankful for each day on our path together.” Janet is currently part of a MSCA research study with a drug she is trying as an alternative to other medications that have not worked well for her.

When you have an especially challenging day with MS, what are the things that help you the most?

When I’m having a difficult day, I strive to pause, delay or shut down anything not required or necessary. I know that if I can take a break to rest and regroup, I can resume what’s important more quickly. I’m thankful for understanding people around me. I remember once, near tears, telling my husband that I hadn’t even had the energy to thaw something for dinner. He simply said, “I didn’t either. We will figure it out.”

What is your key to living successfully with MS?

I don’t share my diagnosis routinely. I don’t hid it if it’s relevant or would be a help to someone else to know but I don’t allow it to define or describe me like my height, eye color, work field, hobbies and driving record might!

Apart from this mindset, I strongly believe the tenet from physics that, “an object in motion tends to stay in motion and an object at rest tends to stay at rest.” I like to stay busy both mentally and physically.

One specific activity that I really believe has helped me over the years is yoga. It can be as challenging as I feel for that moment or season. Yoga also has a meditation, mindset and inner body peace, which I find important. I’m allowed to forgive my body for not being able to do more on any particular day. That forgiveness relieves stress, guild and anxiety that I may feel.

What is your No. 1 piece of advice to anyone finding out he or she has MS?

Insist on finding really good care that you trust entirely. Get on medication. Stay or get active. I’ve moved from Richmond, Virginia to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and then here to Atlanta. I didn’t feel a sense of trust and comfort in my first neurologist. My childhood friend working with MSV in Richmond helped me to find an exceptional one. I made certain before moving to Philadelphia to find another wonderful neurologist. And it was a top priority before moving to Atlanta.

Why did you decide to work with the research staff at MSCA and what do you do for the study in which you participate?

I had taken a previous treatment for 15 years and was simply tired of weekly injections but then did not adjust well to the next treatment. I am currently part of an investigational oral drug that hopes to have less gastrointestinal side effects than the FDA approved drug. I just take the medicine as usual and the wonderfully coordinated team takes care of the rest. I’ve seen an extremely large binder with my information but, luckily, I don’t have to maintain that binder!

What do you think is special and unique about the MS Center of Atlanta?

There is so very much that is unique and special to the Center! I sincerely appreciate that all my services are vertically integrated! Having an MRI with a physician appointment immediately followed by blood draws and then a visit to an MS-knowledgeable pharmacy all on the same visit and in the same building is amazing! Having three different appointments takes so much more time and allows MS to take over more of my life! And the pharmacy works as a mediator and knowledgeable advocate on behalf of the physicians and me. I’ve been so thankful and also surprised!