ST. LOUIS — 2020 has been dubbed the year of the nurse. One St. Louis area nurse living with multiple sclerosis has found strength through cycling and now wants to inspire others to not give up.
Michelle Keating retired from Mercy Hospital as an MS nurse, but early in her career — while at Christian Hospital Northeast — she got news that would stop anyone in their tracks. She had MS.
"My first thought was, ‘What's going to happen in my life and can I continue to work, can we have kids?’” she recalled.
Keating was just 25 years old when she was diagnosed four years into her career and wondered if she would be able to continue to work. She set her mindset. She didn't want to just cope with MS. She truly wanted to survive the disease. She turned to health and wellness and started working out by rowing and walking and finally enlisted a trainer.
"The workouts got a little harder, a little more intense and that mixed with increased exercise and the right medication for me, and I started to feel better," Keating said.
She met a guy with a recumbent tricycle at Creve Coeur Park and became intrigued as to whether that could work for her. A year later, she and her husband tried a tandem bike ride in Colorado, and she fell in love.
"Feeling the freedom of the bike and being able to enjoy the outside was truly wonderful," she said.
Now she wants to help others realize their own potential. She started an organization called MS Bright Spots of Hope, where she sponsors workout programs and is giving others a chance to go on a bike journey with her in Colorado in September 2021.
"Many people can push themselves farther than they ever expected. It helps when you have a supportive environment," added Keating.
This is the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale's birth. She was as a pioneer in nursing. EMD Serono and the International Organization of Multiple Sclerosis Nurses presented Keating with the Nightingale Award and funding for her Strides for Hope projects. She will embark on this Colorado trek in the fall of next year due to COVID-19 canceling the trip this year.
She hopes this provides people living with MS a new perspective on life and hope for the future.
To find out more on her sponsored workout programs or how you could join her ride in Colorado check out MS Bright Spots of Hope.