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One in Five Campaign: Moyna John

Moyna John is a 28 year old outgoing, charismatic, and joy filled mom who also battles Multiple Sclerosis (MS). From the time we hopped on the interview, there was an instant connection and I knew her open spirit would shine through.

Moyna was officially diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in December of 2019. In comparison to other stories she has heard, Moyna says her diagnosis came very quickly.

"All of this kind of came about October of 2019, I woke up one Sunday morning and from [the middle of my eye] down, was completely blurry, from [middle of eye, up] was completely clear."

Due to her grandmother having glaucoma, Moyna took her symptoms very seriously and immediately contacted her doctor. He scheduled her appointment for a week later. While waiting that week, her symptoms went away but she notes it was extremely difficult attempting to maneuver with only half of her sight. Once she was able to get into her appointment, her doctor immediately referred her to a neurologist because he believed there may have been swelling in her optic nerve. However, he did not disclose that swelling in the optic nerve was symptom of MS.

It took Moyna about 2-3 weeks to get a neurology appointment. But in that 2-3 weeks new symptoms developed. By the time she made it to the neurologist, she was numb from the breast down to her feet.

"Everything was numb. It was hard to urinate, it was hard to have a bowel movement. It was especially numb in my intimate areas".

The neurologist was very honest with her and said that her symptoms seemed very MS related. They sent her to get an MRI's just to confirm. Moyna was shocked to say the least. She had heard of multiple sclerosis before, but thought it was a "Caucasian disease" and didn't know that African Americans dealt with it as well.

December 28th Moyna received her MRI results along with a phone call from the doctor telling her to go to the hospital, to get a spinal tap. The doctor took one look at her from her MRI and told her the spinal tap was not needed, he was certain she had MS. They immediately began her on a steriod treatment and put her in a room. On December 31st her doctor informed her that it was indeed MS.

On a daily basis, Moyna experiences fatigue, depression (on and off), unrinary issues, and stiffness. Moyna also utilizes a vitamin regimen that consists of vitamin D3, biotin, B12, calcium, omega 3 fish oils, St. Johns Wort, ginkgo, biloba and turmeric. Along with her vitamins, Moyna tries to live a gluten free lifestyle as much as possible. She notes that she can definitely feel the difference when she eats a sandwich vs eating a salad.

Since her diagnosis Moyna describes coping on bad days is a mixed bag. She states "some bad days I just want to lay in my bed and cry, and some days I'm like this is not the end of your life Moyna, we have to push through...we don't have the luxury of falling to pieces..." Moyna credits most of her strength to her son Micah, who no matter how she is feeling, remains her daily motivation. She also says "I have to give credit where credit is due. My support system has been bomb on both good and bad days". And notes that she does not know how she would make it through this without the support from her boyfriend Nick, her parents, family, and friends.

Moyna describes her flares as as waking up and "just feeling off". During flares Moyna deals with alot of cognitive fog, and once she moves around, she can feel the numbness, stiffness and soreness in her legs. Moyna then puts on her compression socks and compression gloves right away. During flares she is also very fatigued and these are the days that she has to stay in bed just to give her body time to recover. Depending on the severity of her flare, Nick sometimes has to help her walk to the bathroom. Moyna's flares typically last anywhere from 1-14 days.

On good days Moyna prides herself on being funny (which I can vouch for, homegirl is a total CLOWN), making sure her eyeliner matches, and always keeping the atmosphere light and fresh with her personality. When asked what she wanted the world to know about autoimmune diseases Moyna responds:

"I want the world to know that day to day it doesn't look like anything. Today you look absolutely fine, but you don't know what I am dealing with on the inside. You don't know how much effort it is taking for me to stay awake at this moment in time. How much effort it takes just to power through the day. Having an autoimmune disease makes every small minute thing so much more challenging. So you never know what that person is feeling".

To all of her fellow warriors Moyna would like for you to know that

"...its ok to be down, its ok to have days that you are over it, feel defeated, lost and don't know where you are going with this. Its ok to have those feelings and it is ok to give into it to a certain extent, just don't stay there".

In the beginning of her journey Moyna expressed that she did not allow herself that opportunity. She felt that if she opened the box of emotions she would never be able to close it. But now that she has opened the box and let it out, she feels so much better.

To warriors who are newly diagnosed she wants you to know that she knows that it is extremely scary, but do not immediately jump to the thought of needing mobility aids such as walkers or wheelchairs because not everyone will experience that degree of life with MS. Use your fear to propel you forward, don't let fear stop you.

Moyna has now devoted her social media platform to raise awareness on being an African American mother with Multiple Sclerosis. This came about when Moyna needed an outlet and did not want to seem as if she was complaining to her friends and family all of the time. Moyna also started her platform to be the representation that other African American warriors need to see. Moyna uses her platform to highlight the the good, the bad and the ugly truths of being a MS warrior.

Moyna! It was a pleasure to tell your story and get to see your bubbly personality shine through despite your daily battle. Thank you for you bravery and your transparency.


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