Shelly Sheffield maintains an optimistic outlook on her life.
Not even multiple sclerosis has affected the Gore resident negatively after first she was diagnosed 30 years ago.
"I'm in contact with a lot people who have MS, and it can be a very lonely disease because you see see other people doing things that you can't do or wish you could do," Sheffield said. "I have such a variety of family, friends and a support group that don't allow me ever to feel sorry for myself."
According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, multiple sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body.
Sheffield, one of six children, doesn't let MS slow her down.
"My father was very hard-working and never allowed us to be lazy, no matter what. If there's a crisis in my family or with one of my friends or I get down in the dumps, I hear my dad saying, 'Get up, you are not allowed to feel sorry for yourself and not allowed to let anybody else drag you down. Get up and go.' "
Sheffield gets up and goes a lot. When she's not busy with her business, Studio III and Day Spa, she's working with friends to organize the MS Walk/Fundraiser in the Gore Event Center on Oct. 5. If that wasn't enough, she works out with a personal trainer at Strictly Fitness in Muskogee twice a week.
This is a 60-year-old woman, married with two sons and four grandchildren, who has been restricted to a wheelchair for eight years.
"My grandchildren ask me why I can't walk and I say my legs say go but my brain says no," Sheffield said. "I look at it like the plaque that gets on your teeth. It's plaque that gets around some of the wiring in your brain and it eats away at the wiring. I started feeling some numbness in my arm. It's hard to diagnose as not everyone's the same and mine is progressive.
"I'm still doing the things I did when I was 30, just not with my legs. I'm using my brain and my eyes."
Sheffield gets treatments, which includes taking Ocrevus intravenously for five hours twice a year. According to mssociety.org, Ocrevus has an anitbody that targets white blood cells that contributes to nerve damage in MS.
"There's so many new medications out there for people," she said. "A doctor will advise what's best for them. They're making big strides to find medication and working on a cure. One doesn't need to be scared."
Sheffield is too busy to be scared as planning for the Fifth annual Walk occupies much of her time. The walk brought in $13,077 last year as the top fundraiser in the state and among the top 200 such events in the nation. She and her committee, who include Melissa Sumpter, Peggy Sheffield, Paula Parker, Joy Wright, Sharon Duke, Peggy McSpadden and Judy Merrill, are active in getting ready for the walk and said the "goal is always to raise at least $1 more than the previous year."
Sheffield said she refuses to have "bad" days.
"I really don't get tired and I don't get depressed," she said. "I want to encourage people who have been diagnosed that MS is not a death sentence. It's just a hickey, just a bump in the road. It's not always a piece of cake and a lot of it is mindset. Everybody deals with it differently.
Sheffield's trainer, Rachel Meinershagen, has worked with Sheffield for eight years. She has been impressed with Sheffield.
"She has that drive to keep going," Meinershagen said. "She's asking, 'Can we try this?' She doesn't let anything hold her back. She's so fun."
Meanwhile, Sheffield looks to the day when she can walk again.
"I'm told I inspire people, but I don't see that. I am what I am," she said. "I've got a great team of friends that help me every day and inspire me. I get up in the morning and say, 'God, this is what I'll be doing today.' My goal in life is to meet somebody new each week. I also want God to know that when I start walking, I'm going to make good use of my time."
You can help
WHAT: Fifth annual Gore MS Walk/Fundraiser.
WHEN: 10 a.m. Oct. 5.
WHERE: Gore Event Center.
INFORMATION: Shelly Sheffield at (918) 261-6444 or Melissa Sumpter at (479) 651-6146.