Jen’s Story

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Faces of the Foundation:
2015

Condition:
Multiple Sclerosis

Resources:
Mayo Clinic

U.S. National Library of Medicine

WebMD

Rocky Mountain Multiple Sclerosis Center

Multiple Sclerosis International Federation

National Multiple Sclerosis Society

 

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Meet Jen

Born and raised in Colorado where I grew up with my 3 siblings in a typical household of two busy parents trying to keep track of four kids. I can’t say I loved school but did enjoy attending Radar College in Sacramento, California for merchandising as well as taking some business classes in CO. Back in Colorado worked & managed in both the Health Club and Property Management industries.

When I was 24 I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I can tell you it was a surprise as I never knew anyone who had ever had it. Fortunately it did not impact my life too much early on. At age 29 I got married, partly out of worry about what the future held and not wanting to turn 30 without being a Mrs.! It only lasted 7 years after he and I realized I would probably never have children out of health concerns. It was after that I met my one true love and my soulmate. For 10 years he & I traveled the world, Africa, Scotland, Ireland, Mexico & Greece were some of my favorite places. I loved Africa because of the beautiful & amazing animals, especially seeing Zebra’s my favorites!

In 2010 at the age of 50, I was fortunate to go to Costa Rica for a stem cell treatment for people with MS. It was not successful other than bringing feeling back to my numb feet however, it also brought pain back to my entire body that I live with to this day. I don’t think I would not recommend the treatment to others unless the newer treatments eliminated the pain.

After reading about health & nutrition for MS, I decided to become a vegetarian. Good nutrition is so important in the world of illnesses and helping our bodies fight with everything possible. I also made a decision that when I am no longer here, my brain will be donated for future research. I hope before that day… someone will help me write a book about my journey into and living with MS in the hope of helping and inspiring others. I do believe it will show the funny side of having an illness like MS. The grocery store is fraught with stories. Once, as I sat in my wheelchair I had unsuccessfully tried to reach and grab a package of Depends, which ultimately ended up on the floor of the grocery store. It was about that time that a good looking guy came around the corner and down the aisle towards me. I immediately pretended that I was looking for something else when he stopped picked them up asking if they were mine. Of course I said no and proceeded to tell him that I had never seen them before!

Jennifer Blankenship
1961 – 2016

On June 23, 2016 the world lost a beautiful and passionate soul. As a Face of the Foundation, we are grateful that we were able to give her a platform to share her story about who she was as a person and what it was like living with Multiple Sclerosis. She will always be remembered for her kind, loving and joyful personality.

What Jen would like you to know about living with MS

  • When you see someone with MS, know that there is still a real person in there and we still have the same heart, soul, emotions and desires as others
  • MS is humbling in that it causes you to be completely dependent on others for all of your safety and care.
  • We mourn our loss of dignity and being respected.
  • Respect each person with MS in all ways, just like you expect from others.
  • Listen carefully to the wants and needs of each person with MS.
  • Investigate all care givers & facilities extremely close (abuse is rampant).
  • All people with MS that desire to, should be allowed to live at home.
  • Never exclude the person who has MS for any decision regarding their life.
  • Look people with MS in the eyes to connect with the real person inside.
  • Don’t distance yourself when things get difficult, it is then that they need you the most.
  • Don’t just drop by without checking first if I am up to seeing you. Though I love visitors and look forward to company, there are days and times my body does not cooperate and I have to decline.
  • My heart gets broken if we set a time you are going to by to stop by and then you don’t show up.
  • It is OK for you to offer help to people with MS, both privately and out in public. I appreciate when people ask if they can help me. There are many times I need it (like when I am staring at a glass of wine that I might be unable to hold due to the shaking in my hands that particular day).
  • Life is about choices. I choose to be the best person I can be. I love life, my family and my friends. I enjoy getting out and participating in life rather than watching it go by.
  • My secret hope is to someday meet a cabana boy… with a dog… yeah that would be great.

Jen’s Photos

Jen’s Blog

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