(1943 - 2010)
Can Do MS Founder
Pioneer in MS care management
Lived with MS for 44 years
I AM more than my MS.™
The following story was told by Jimmie Heuga before a Can Do MS staff holiday party December 2009.
When Jimmie was diagnosed with MS in the 1970s at age 26, his doctor asked, “Jimmie, how long have you been sick?”
“Well, as a matter of fact, I’m healthier than you,” said Jimmie.
Jimmie resented the fact his doctor viewed him as and called him “sick.” He resented it particularly because his doctor had a large beer belly hanging over his belt. In fact, many doctors shared that same view at the time of Jimmie’s diagnosis.
Shortly after being diagnosed with MS, he went to France with his brother. He spent days reflecting on his diagnosis, thinking about what was important to him.
He realized he “wanted to get back into life.” He wanted to live life in spite of his diagnosis.
“Rather than sitting in bed saying ‘woe is me or why me, God,’ I wanted to continue to maintain my healthy lifestyle. My emotional anchor is health and exercise.”
During his travels, he realized he “wanted to create a health program that gives people with MS a sense of direction to enable them to recapture their self-esteem, self image, self confidence, sense of well-being and health.”
“There’s more than a cure to your MS. What if we know the cause of MS? People with MS still need to maintain the quality of their lives. Each day is a new day. MS is a day-to-day issue. How do we take charge of our lives when so many challenges appear to be in the way? I wanted to start a program to address these issues.”
Jimmie tapped the goal-setting skills he learned from his Olympic skiing career and built a program of physical activity, goal-setting and psychological motivation that improved his physical condition and outlook on life and MS. This program is called Can Do MS's CAN DO Program.
“I wanted people to realize how they could deal with the obstacles in their lives.”