When Disability Turns into a Source of Energy

September 3, 2015
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Trevis and Andrew in Dingle

Trevis and Andrew in Dingle

Trevis and Andrew in Dingle

Trevis and Andrew in Dingle

Trevis Gleason could have dropped into deep depression when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis years ago. He was a skilled chef, had a budding career, and a million ideas, recipes and passion. But that’s not Trevis. Despite the progression of MS and the medicines that no longer stop it over the years since diagnosis, he has become even more energized. That was apparent when Esther and I visited Trevis and his wife, Caryn, for a few days recently at their new home in stunningly beautiful Dingle on Ireland’s southwest coast.

 
I first met Trevis in Seattle after his MS diagnosis when our earlier company, HealthTalk, produced the MS Education Network in collaboration with the National MS Society. Thousands of patients listened to our monthly audio webcasts or read the transcripts. It just made sense, given our “patient-driven journalism” approach, to have someone like Trevis be the host. And he did a fabulous job. It also made sense for Trevis to write a blog, and that was fabulous, too. HealthTalk was eventually merged into Everyday Health, a major consumer website, and Trevis and his popular blog went with it. It continues today, three times a week, with an ever greater following. Trevis has become the leading voice in MS. Trevis and Caryn were featured  on the cover the the MS Society’s magazine, he is a major speaker at their annual conference, and he is doing the same kind of leadership in his new home country, Ireland.
 
About three years ago, not long after Esther and I began our adventure in Barcelona, Trevis and Caryn moved to Dingle. Trevis’s heritage is from Ireland, and it was a homecoming for him. Having just visited with him, it is clear it is a tonic for his health. He is thriving, climbing hilly trails with his beloved Wheaten terriers and with his walking stick in hand, consulting to help make his town the awarding winning food town in Ireland, and whipping up amazing meals at home. Oh, and I left out one big thing, he wrote a wonderful book about his great adventure, Chef Interupted. As an author, that meant a book tour which is no small feat for someone with progressive MS. But Trevis went from city to city to tell his story, and now it may continue as he tries to realize another dream—a television show where he interviews highly regarded chefs about their “perfect meal” and then makes it happen for them, anywhere in the world. This man with a cane never stops his devotion to others and his celebration of life where disability and the threat of more just propels him further and higher.
 
I have become a patient advocate. But my journey has been easy compared to so many others. Trevis doesn’t talk about his symptoms or his fears. I admire him so much—another great example of a person with a serious diagnosis who has moved on to a better place. For Trevis, that better place is now the cliffs of Ireland over the waves of the Atlantic and on digital channels for patients on the Internet and maybe soon also on national or international television.
 
If we played a small role in propelling Trevis to have a platform for a greater voice for patients, we are honored. And if you have a yearning to speak out as a patient too to inspire others, go do it. Share your story with us! Like the thousands of people Trevis has helped, an audience is waiting to listen. And it just might be the spark for something new!
 
Wishing you and your family the best of health!
Andrew