Kenneth “Kenny” Dyer, a 53 year-old, father of three, from the South Hills of Pittsburgh lived his life without expecting to one day be diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), “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.” However, you could ask ten different people living with MS about how it is affecting their lives and you would get ten different stories.
For Kenny, he went 5 to 6 years without any diagnosis just assuming that the symptoms he was having were as a result of stress and getting older. However, in 2016 he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of the disease. Within two years he was bound to a wheelchair, had to stop working, and relocated to Westmoreland, PA to live with his sister because he was unable to live independently.
Prior to his diagnosis, Kenny’s middle son, who was around 11 at the time, was diagnosed with cancer. Kenny remembers telling his son everyday “you are gonna get up, you are gonna fight, and you are going to win.” Kenny did not realize that one day he was going to have to practice what he preached. He decided he was not going to “curl up in a ball” and let the disease take control, he was going to continue making the best of his life. Even though he is inconvenienced by a wheelchair, he realizes that it could be much worse and that some people would give their lives to be in the position that he’s in.
One of the best compliments that he has ever received was from a friend saying, “the biggest difference between you (Kenny) and other people living with MS is that you are not giving up.” Each day, Kenny gets up and goes about his day, he gets to the gym three days a week, and does not allow himself to make excuses.
Currently, Kenny’s MS is stabilized with the help of medication and infusions. His goal is to one day not need a wheelchair and begin using a walker or cane. He wants people to remember him as someone who doesn’t quit and is able to make people smile. When asked what advice he would give to the past Kenny, it would be to go to the doctor, so many things he faces today could have been prevented if he would have just followed the warning signs. Advice that he would offer to anyone recently diagnosed with MS is that “It’s not a death sentence. Yes, it’s a life sentence, but it’s not the end.”