By Nancy Walker

On Saturday, May 11, the National MS Society will stage Walk MS® Buffalo downtown at Canalside. My employer, Univera Healthcare, will be among the sponsors, and I will be captain of our employee walk team. In the past, I would have viewed this as just one of many great events held each year in Western New York, but then my perspective, and my life, changed.

On Thanksgiving 2021, I woke up looking forward to a great day with family, friends, food, and my annual tradition of setting up my collection of Christmas villages for the coming holidays. But as I rolled out of bed, I noticed the upper left side of my body was numb, and internally I felt tight and constricted, like a stuffed turkey ready to be cooked!

Fast-forward a week and I was sitting before a neurologist who said, “You have multiple sclerosis.” I spent the next several days, including my 42nd birthday, receiving steroid infusions. A couple of weeks after that, I learned that the disease had spread throughout my spine.

It became very difficult for me to perform my duties as a clinical coding analyst at Univera Healthcare, as I was unable to type with my left hand. Fortunately, I received overwhelming support from both my supervisor and manager as they helped me juggle my job and numerous medical appointments.

Looking back, I was in shock when I received the diagnosis, and missed most of what the neurologist told me. I knew nothing about MS and wondered if the way I felt was my new normal, and if I was destined for a wheelchair. I needed to learn everything I could about MS and about how people who live with it deal with it.

The National MS Society was there for me. I attended my first support group in February 2022, which ended up being exactly what I hoped for. I made new friends, and it helped change my mindset from thinking that I was always going to have flareups, to what to do IF I had a flareup. With Ocrevus infusions every six months, I am now successfully managing my MS symptoms and progression.

I share my story to offer encouragement and inspiration to others who are on this same journey. Sharing plays a big part in moving forward on this path. Since my diagnosis, I have gained so much confidence and truly feel I have turned the experience into a positive one. Overall, I am doing very well. In my car, I keep a stone with the word “gratitude” etched on it, reminding me to always take stock of the good things in life. I never expected Thanksgiving 2021 to turn out as it did; however, it showed me what being truly thankful is all about.

Please consider participating in Walk MS® Buffalo on May 11. It’s the largest gathering of its kind to raise funds and make a difference for everyone living with MS. Here is the link to learn more: .


Nancy Walker is a clinical coding analyst at Univera Healthcare.