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HELSTON: The important life lesson I learned from a man with a debilitating illness

Charlotte Helston is the Vernon reporter for InfoNews.
February 05, 2016 - 10:26 AM

As I walked back to my car after the interview, I felt both uplifted, and ashamed.

I had just spent over an hour sitting with a Multiple Sclerosis patient, chatting with him about some of the most private, painful, and uncomfortable details of his life. He spoke openly and honestly about his disease, outlining the chronology of his onset symptoms and diagnosis in a detached, factual way. He smiled often and joked around. Not once in our conversation did the 60-something father look for pity.

I was grouchy that week because of a case of runner’s knee interfering with my daily routine. I was also on the lingering, tail end of a stubborn cold. But as I shook hands with Edward and walked out of his life story and back into mine, all my own gripes were reduced to the size of a crumb.

One of several people with severe medical conditions I sat down with for a feature I was working on, Edward didn’t complain about his situation; he made the most of it. He even remarked that his condition wasn’t as bad as that of other MS patients.

“I’m almost embarrassed,” he said.

Despite the steady wreckage of his nervous system, Edward finds joy in life. He goes to dinner parties and likes to make things. The MS might be taking over his body, slowly reducing his ability to walk, but it hasn’t taken over his life.

If I went into the interview thinking of Edward as victim of his illness, I was quickly set straight. His resilience and positivity astounded me. In the face of so much adversity, he was the one showing me not to let the negative things in life get you down.

What good does feeling sorry for yourself accomplish, anyway? Not much at all. Life isn’t a smooth ride for any of us. We all face challenges, but it’s how we choose to meet them that defines us.

I met with Edward to find out about his experience with a controversial medicine, but I learned so much more and am grateful for it. 

You can read more about Edward, and the other patients I spoke with, in a series coming out this weekend on 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016
InfoTel News Ltd

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