Woman with MS advocates for others through educational workshops
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A woman with multiple sclerosis is hosting a series of workshops in the Kansas City area to teach other patients how to defend themselves along their journey.
After seven years of living in the unknown, Keyonna Pitchford was finally diagnosed with MS in 2017.
Her own struggles with self-representation and self-discovery were anything but easy.
“It still makes me quite emotional because I feel like I’m still figuring things out, but I’m a lot stronger than I was in 2017,” Pitchford said. “Being very secretive about what I was going through and being a single woman living alone can be very scary when you’re going through something life changing.”
She remembers the difficulties of living with relapsing-remitting MS, a neurological disease that affects the central nervous system. Depending on the number of lesions one has and their location in the brain, this will dictate the type of challenges one may face.
Some of Pitchford’s symptoms included extreme dizziness, muscle spasms, brain fog, memory loss, general weakness, and hyperreflexia.
“So at one point I was using a cane and a walker and crawling,” she said. “I suffered from extremity atrophy and things like that, so after the relapse ended, I worked on my fitness.”
Even with more research and drug funding reforms, there is still no known cure for MS, which is why Pitchford has created a platform called Rise Well to teach, guide and support other patients at its best. square.
“I had to pull and find and dig for information, so hopefully by making this free and available for people to actually say yes and let themselves be taken care of,” Pitchford said.
In partnership with the Kansas City Public Library, she has decided to host a series of five free workshops by July 2023. She will take the opportunity to teach patients to ask for what they need while showing loved ones how to be there for someone with MS.
“I am literally the thing that I wish existed ten years ago when I was going through my journey,” she said. “Research is still going to be done, but I wish there were more resources that help people going about their day-to-day lives.”
Pitchford says there is power in having open conversations. She hopes people who come to her workshops will hear the truth, find resources, and learn to accept love.
“Honestly, I wouldn’t change it. Having this diagnosis was a gift,” Pitchford said. “I hope people will bring their family and loved ones and open up the conversation.”
Pitchford’s aunt, Yoland Pitchford, was in the audience at the first workshop on Saturday.
“Reach out and just say, ‘What can I do for you?’ Not being bossy, allowing him to have his moments, right?” said Yolanda Pitchford.
To find out about upcoming workshops, click here.