Thursday, June 13, 2013

Interview with Kristie Salerno Kent, Author of Dreams: My Journey with Multiple Sclerosis

Kristie Salerno Kent, a multiple sclerosis patient advocate, singer and songwriter, award-winning filmmaker and mother of two has just released her first book, “Dreams: My Journey with Multiple Sclerosis.” A free download is available at Kristie is a paid spokesperson for Acorda Therapeutics®, Inc.

Where did you grow up?

Upstate New York

What is this book about?

The book is about my experience with multiple sclerosis (MS), and specifically how my denial affected my health and my plans for the future. From the time my symptoms first started appearing, I was in denial, pretending that everything was fine. Even after my diagnosis I did not take many important steps to protect my health. Instead, I put my dream of being a performer on hold. I was also not sure I could handle the responsibilities of being a mom since I had trouble walking. By reconnecting with my passion for music, I was able to overcome my fear and go on to get the help and support I needed. I found a way to keep my dreams alive. I wrote the book to encourage more people with MS to continue to follow their passions – whatever they may be. You might have to modify your dreams with MS, but you don’t have to give them up!

What inspired you to write it?

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, unpredictable condition. As a result, many people believe they need to stop doing the things they love to accommodate MS. In my case, symptoms including fatigue and walking problems stopped me from performing – a dream I had since I was a young girl. It also made me feel like I might not be able to handle the challenges of being a mother, including keeping up with my children. I wrote this book to show people that you can continue to dream even with MS, and that following your dreams can give you the inspiration you need to fight back against MS.

If you knew then, what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently?

At the beginning I let MS change my entire way of living. For instance, I had trouble walking so I started to avoid going to certain social events. My symptoms also caused me to stop auditioning and performing. I didn’t want to see the doctor or take medication, because that would mean admitting my MS was real. I had to overcome fear and denial and talk about my MS symptoms. Once I started talking, I learned about how to manage my MS better. I found a way to continue to perform. I went on to record an album with songs to motivate others who may be facing health challenges. I also have been blessed with two wonderful children. And I became a stronger advocate for my own treatment. MS still challenges me, but I’ve learned to control my health and fight back so that I can continue to pursue many of the dreams that are important to me.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

What is up next for you?

I’m very happy to be spending a lot of time with my family and also singing and working as a patient advocate in MS. Of course I am aware of my MS and make sure that I don’t overdo it. But I have found a way to pursue my passions and do what I love to do, and I am also enjoying the opportunity to motivate others. I’ll be spending the next few months travelling to different MS-focused events to sign copies of my book and share my story.

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