Exercise has become one of the best weapons that Nicole Gosselin has to combat the symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
Since being diagnosed five years ago, Gosselin has taken up cycling along with yoga as her main exercise outlets in her fight against MS.
“Keeping active and exercising regularly helps me cope with some of the cognitive challenges I face because of MS,” said Gosselin.
“When I exercise and eat healthy I feel better. Otherwise I feel fatigued more and suffer from what I call ‘brain fog,’ where my information processing suffers or my memory fails me sometimes.”
Gosselin, 34, has channeled her cycling interest into an MS fundraising event which takes place this weekend in Kelowna, the MS Bike Okanagan Experience.
It is a 158-km ride with optional shorter routes that takes place over two days, starting and finishing at the RONA Home and Garden store in Kelowna, taking the more than 125 expected participants along cycling routes around Kelowna and West Kelowna.
Gosselin, a Kelowna resident, first heard about the race three years ago and showed up with an old mountain bike. Since then, she has switched to a bike more conducive to street riding and embraced the fundraisng initiative along with her family.
This year her 10-year-old son will join her on the cycling route, having already raised the $350 participation donation request, while her two other kids will help out as volunteers for the event.
Beyond raising money to help fund further MS research, advocacy and care support programs, Gosselin hopes the ride can also raise awareness about her disease, one she admits many Canadians may have heard about but have little knowledge about its impact.
“It’s still surprising to me how many people still don’t know what MS is. Most people are not aware that Canada has the highest rate of MS in the world, or that it is the neurological disease that affects more young adults (age 20 to 49) than any other,” she said.
When she was first diagnosed with MS five years ago, Gosselin was already experiencing symptoms such as the loss of part of her eyesight, numbness in the right side of her face and extreme vertigo attacks.
“I was initially terrified of what my future would look like. What worried me the most was facing cognitive challenges, the kind that are creeping into my life right now.
“I sometimes find myself struggling to find words, remember things and process information quickly. It’s scary and frustrating, and it’s not easy knowing I put extra stress on my family.”
Gosselin said riding in the MS Bike Okanagan Experience is her way of proving to herself that her body remains strong despite her illness, that she can overcome any obstacle.
“I am riding for my children, to ensure I am healthy and here for them for as long as possible. I am riding for every other person who is suffering from MS. I am riding for the families who have lost loved ones to MS. I am riding to find a cure.”
You can register online to participate in the MS Bike Okanagan Experience at www.msbike.ca.
The events begins at 9 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday from RONA’s parking lot, 1711 Springfield Rd.