When Harriet Black heard a neurologist say she had multiple sclerosis, she was determined to make sure she would move with wheels attached to a bicycle instead of a wheelchair.
"For me it felt like the floor was coming out from under me," Black said. "I wondered how many steps do I have left in me?"
That was 17 years ago. Black is still moving, both on her feet and on her bike. Black, now a 63-year-old who owns a manufacturing business with her husband, knew she had to change her diet, exercise routine and even her attitude to effectively fight MS.
"It turned out for me a blessing in disguise," Black said of the MS diagnosis, "because at age 47, I wasn't in as good of shape as I am right now."
After the MS diagnosis, Black said she eliminated as much saturated fat from her diet as possible. She also started taking nutritional supplements that help eliminates heavy metals from the body.
The supplements and change in attitude were courtesy of Dr. Michael Schachter in Suffern, New York. Dr. Schachter’s practice focuses on naturally cleansing the body of the toxins that can exacerbate diseases like MS. Dr. Schachter advised Black to have her amalgam dental work removed. Black said she was also exposed to a few viewpoints on life that changed the way she saw the world.
While diet and supplements helped Black, she knew she also had to reshape her exercise habits. An avid biker, Black and her husband, Bob, just completed the 2014 New York City Triathlon as part of the Race to Stop MS triathlon team. The 2014 event was also a personal best for Black, as she swam, biked and ran her way to a combined time of 3 hours and 52 minutes.
Black has raised more than $4,500 for the event. The 2014 triathlon was Black’s fifth triathlon; a feat that could not have been accomplished without a stroke of luck in registering for her first triathlon in 2010.
"When you wanted to register for the Tri, you go online and keep entering your name until you get in," Black said. "I get on and Bob is still trying to get on. I fill out my form and five minutes later it says ‘Sorry, all filled up.’ Bob never got in."
Black has also dedicated her personal time to helping people newly diagnosed with MS. She has talked to dozens of individuals at length about their fears, while giving them a glimpse into her life and her way of thinking. Black is working on creating a website where she can tell her experiences with MS, while helping those newly diagnosed cope with the initial shock and fear that comes with MS.
"It doesn’t have to be scary," Black said. "We can become fearless, and we can do good work."