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Cynthia N.

Joined the Endeavor Community: October 2015

I have lived in the Bay Area for 15 years, moving here from New Jersey in 2001. On September 27th, 2007, two months after completing my first half-marathon and 11 months after I had celebrated marrying my love, I contracted acute Transverse Myelitis (TM) while at work. In four hours I was transformed from a healthy, active 34 year old to a quadriplegic. TM is an autoimmune disease that attacks the spinal cord in varying degrees. The damage done to my spinal cord was very severe. As one neurologist somberly lectured me, “You are going to need to do a lot of physical therapy.”

Before my onset, I worked for the ALS Association and saw first-hand the devastation that disease can cause, but also saw the tremendous compassion, caring, love, and magnificent triumph that the patients, families and caregivers experienced because this life altering experience. It is from them that I am able to gather fierce determination to work diligently to get stronger, but to also embrace the life I have and the people that are in it. I wanted to use my experience to help other people going through similar situations. The road to achieving this has been more difficult than I thought, as the pain, fatigue and depression that often accompanies a spinal cord injury has been more formidable than I thought it would be. But I have found a wonderful community to be a part of and to serve; I am a board member for the organization Bay Area Outreach and Recreational Program, a leader in providing sports, recreational and outdoor activities to people with all types of physical disabilities. I also am involved with Canine Companions, who matched me with my service dog, Freckle. I work part-time and just started driving on my own!

Finding outlets for physical activity that can help find new neural pathways has been a priority for me from the beginning. After many years of trying different therapies and modalities, I have chosen to focus on Neuro-Pilates. The Pilates approach has enhanced my connection to my body and creates ways to not only strengthen, but to recognize my weaknesses and tap into those to create strength. Pilates significantly reduces my pain while I am practicing and I am learning to carry that relief off the mat. I have counted on the generosity of those I know, but also those who may know me indirectly, to sustain my health and continued recovery. The ability to keep my body strong will hopefully allow me to have the focus to continue onwards towards independence and fulfillment. You can make a tax-deductible donation here. Thank you!

“Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.” - Goethe
— Goethe