Welcome to TwinsCoast2Coast. I’m Terry, an identical twin born in St. Petersburg, Florida, in 1968. My sister Tamara and I are both living with Multiple Sclerosis. We created TwinsCoast2Coast to share our stories of the good, the bad and the funny of living with a chronic illness to help educate and inspire others.
I’m 8 minutes younger than Tamara. Even though we’re twins, Tamara has always been the “oldest” and was always the best big sister, taking care of me and always making sure her little sister was ok.
I’ve been married to the love of my life, Allen, since 1994 and have two beautiful daughters, Cheryl and Alexandra. I’ve been living in Atlanta, Georgia for the last 30 years and love Broadway Theater, concerts, and dance performances. In addition to my career (including owning a construction company for more than 10 years) I’ve spent countless hours volunteering for my children’s dance studio, their schools, and a multitude of fundraising societies.
Like many others, my “official” journey with MS started when I was diagnosed in the prime of my life at age 27. (My identical twin would be diagnosed three years later.) Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack the central nervous system. The immune system mistakenly attacks the myelin sheath, the protective protein coat around nerve fibers, resulting in inflammation and damage of the myelin sheath as well as the nerve cells themselves.
Although we didn’t realize it at the time, my life was affected by MS well before my diagnosis. Early symptoms during my preteen years included tingling, numbness, and burning in both my legs. After my mother’s death in 1992 from cancer, I developed optic neuritis in both eyes. After searching for a diagnosis for over three years, I finally saw a neuro-ophthalmologist who then referred me to a neurologist for a MRI and spinal tap that confirmed I had Multiple Sclerosis.
While my MS journey began at a young age and would forever change me, I had a choice – continue to live a full happy life or be depressed and sad. I chose to live a full life of happiness and continue to stay positive for my children, family and other MS warriors.
Throughout my MS journey, I have worked with doctors and other professionals to maintain a proactive and assertive battle against the disease. After my initial diagnosis, I started Avonex, the newest drug on the market at the time. For the next few years, the MS progression continued, primarily with the optic neuritis. In year 2000, I was fortunate enough to be selected for the Tysabri study. Although though this was a double-blind, placebo-controlled study I knew I was getting the active medication as I never felt better in my life and my progression stopped for 10 years. Unfortunately, in October, 2013, I was taken off this medication. Although I have tried other approved Multiple Sclerosis medications, my progression returned and today I live with secondary progressive MS.
Despite MS, I feel like I have a successful and fulfilling life. I owned a residential building company, worked as a marketing director for a medical company, and volunteered at my children’s school. Most recently, I have spent time working as a Board of Trustee member for the Georgia Multiple Sclerosis Society, with companies exploring the medical cannabis industry and as a motivational speaker.
My sister and I created TwinsCoast2Coast across multiple social media platforms hoping to inspire, encourage, motivate, and support people with chronic illnesses and disabilities. I hope you’ll follow along!