She works hard against the odds
Name: Christa Mitchell
“I realized that I couldn’t just rely on the medicine; I needed to take better care of myself.”
Background: Christa Mitchell was born and raised in Newfoundland, Canada. During her youth and college years, she played on sports teams and took fitness classes. “I enjoyed water aerobics with my mom,” she recalls. After earning a degree in education with a concentration on Christian ministries, she worked in various director positions for the Salvation Army in the United States for 10 years. She is now a donor recruitment representative for the American Red Cross.
The Challenge: “I woke up like any other day, except that I couldn’t feel anything on the right side of my head and I had lost my sense of taste,” Mitchell explains about the morning of December 5, 2003. After an MRI and a lumbar puncture, she learned she has relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis — the slow deterioration of the central nervous system. Medication helped, but during a relapse, a cluster of lesions was found in the section of her brain where the associative skills are. “I couldn’t put order and structure to sentences,” Mitchell recalls. “It was emotionally overwhelming.”
The Turning Point: Doctors found the right treatment for Mitchell. And she decided to be more intentional and self-aware with her choices, rather than let things happen as they may. She usually exercises six days a week, running some days and doing resistance training the others. She has lost 50 pounds, and there are no longer any visible lesions on her brain. She still has some chronic pain, but working out and maintaining a healthy diet help her feel better.
Staying Motivated: “Definitely Lily and Samuel are my biggest forms of motivation,” Mitchell says of her 8- and 6-year-old children. She finds strength remembering things her parents taught her and by reading scripture, but realizes all that may change no matter how motivated she is. “If I am ever one of those people declining, I want to know I did everything I could to avoid the decline,” says Mitchell. She knows she could become blind or wheelchair bound.
Goals: Mitchell is training for the Tough Mudder Arizona in 2012. Designed by British Special Forces, it’s an incredible physical and mental challenge. “And when I’ve done that, we’ll see what’s next,” she says.