Ashley Curry served in the U.S. Navy for six years as an underwater mine expert. After being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, she was medically retired and is now a Behavioral Therapist for children with autism and is also a Muay Thai fighter. Her personal passion is to encourage those who feel lost after a diagnosis or anyone dealing with an illness. Her goal is to remind them to never give up.
This is her story.
My name is Ashley Curry and I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in December of 2011.
One morning, while serving in the US Navy and stationed in Japan, I woke up and my right hand was frozen still. I went to the doctor and they suggested I get an MRI of my head and spine. Immediately I was called back into the office for my results. As I looked across from the doctor, I could see an image of a brain with "white spots" on it and was sure he was violating someone else's privacy by still having it open when I walked in. He soon told me that it was my own brain and it was suggested that I had a rare brain tumor. I was sent to Hawaii to have them removed. As the doctor told me how the procedure would go, she asked me for my precious MRI images. I quickly remembered that I had left them in Japan, so she put in for me to have another one. The next day, I was sent to see another doctor as they told me I would have to have a spinal tap. Confused, I asked why this needed to be done. The doctor explained to me that the "white spots" in my brain weren't tumors, but lesions and they needed to find out why. I received my spinal tap and it was the most painful thing I had ever endured in my life. I was later called back into the office for my results. I sat in the office, awaiting my appointment, when started reading pamphlets about a disease called multiple sclerosis. I didn't know what it was, but I distinctly remember saying to myself, "Wow, I'm glad I don't have this." While sitting across from the doctor, I heard the words that would forever change my life. "You have multiple sclerosis."
My heart sank as I kept my composure. I was later transferred back to America because they didn't have the means in that small urban town in Japan. While back in America, depression and anxiety became my everyday routine after dealing with pain, treatments, wheelchairs and limited use of parts of my body. I finally decided enough was enough and I needed help. I saw a psychologist and she suggested I find something to do. Something to make me happy. Instantly, I remembered that I used to do Muay Thai and it was something fun to do. My car practically drove itself to a Muay Thai gym I had once visited. At first, it was fun, and gave me a reason to get healthier until I realized my body was changing. I no longer had to use my cane to navigate through life and opening bottles were becoming more possible.
I realized at that moment in time that if others decide to give up on themselves the way that I did, they would never get to this point, a point of deliverance. It became my mission, my duty, to encourage anyone who would listen to fight for their life. Fighting for my life, for me, is just that; the actual form of fighting through Muay Thai, but I actually want others to fight for their lives to live in whatever that means to them. When dealing with a silent illness, it can be very disheartening when it comes to dealing with others because the illness cannot be seen, therefore it doesn't make sense to people. So, we often keep our thoughts and feeling to ourselves, trapping our minds in a prison we made to keep from breaking.
It's been a painful and exhausting journey, but I wouldn't have it any other way. In a way, this diagnosis was a blessing because it gave me a platform. It's hard to take advice from someone that doesn't know what it's like to give up on their life or to be given a "hidden" diagnosis, but because I have, others are more likely to take into consideration the example presented to them. My body wants to reject all that I do to it. I am not supposed to be able to do what I do. I wasn't supposed to get out of that wheelchair. I wasn't supposed to be able to take care of myself, but I did because I literally fought for it. I don't fight for self gratification. I don't fight to be the number one champion that ever lived. I fight because someone, somewhere is waiting for me to say, "Take it from me, don't give up."