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April 17, 2014

Mother, daughter duo battle MS as team

— Mother and daughter, Lashae and Shantel Hayden, of Chickasha travel to Oklahoma City every year to participate in Walk MS: Oklahoma City to help fund research for multiple sclerosis, one step at a time.

During a shopping trip in 2010 with her daughter, Shantel, for the upcoming school year, Lashae lost feeling in her hands and feet. Then she started losing feeling in her stomach area and arms.

Thinking she had a pinched nerve, Lashae made an appointment with her doctor. When the doctor scheduled Lashae for an MRI that day, Lashae started to get scared. Because of this fear, she cancelled the MRI appointment. Just when it seemed like it couldn't get any worse, Lashae lost vision in her right eye.

"I didn't know what was going on," Lashae recalls.

An visit to an optometrist resulted in Lashae being referred to a specialist in Oklahoma City where she was diagnosed with Optic Neuritis, a symptom of Multiple Sclerosis. Lashae was told she needed to have an MRI done that day.

Lashae said that she was glad she had her good friend, Cassie Miller, to help her through the experience.

Lashae was prescribed steroids to help bring back her vision, but she was told that she would not fully regain vision in her right eye. The results from the MRI revealed that Lashae had lesions in her brain. She was then referred to a neurologist and had to undergo another MRI and a spinal tap.

"I have never been more scared and nervous in my life," Lashae said.

The results of the second MRI revealed that Lashae had lesions in her brain and on her spine.

"Right then I was faced with the news that I did not want to hear. All that was going through my mind was how I was going to explain this to my daughter. The thought of a cane or a wheelchair was something that I did not want to come to terms with," Lashae said.

Lashae said she has her good days and her bad days. She struggles with fatigue.

"I never know what I'm going to wake up to," she said.

One thing that Lashae said she is thankful to be able to rely on is a strong group of supporters. Lashae's mother, Janice Hayden, goes with Lashae to her doctor appointments. An aunt, Deborah Burdex calls at least once a week to check on Lashae, something Lashae said she is grateful for. Her coworkers are helpful when the pain prevents Lashae from walking. Her daughter and walking partner, Shantel, is helpful around the house and helps cook, clean and whatever her mother needs.

"I am very lucky to have the support group that I have. If it was not for them, I don't know where I would be," Lashae said.

"My mother, daughter and I walk the MS Walk not just for me but for those who can't walk because of this disease. It is good to see how many people show up to walk in support of others and have the hope that one day there will be a cure for MS," she said.

Hayden, 34, has been a paralegal at Frailey, Chaffin, Cordell, Perryman, Sterkel, McCalla and Brown LLP for five years. Her 15-year-old daughter, Shantel Hayden is a freshman at Chickasha High School. Lashae is very involved in her church as youth director and church secretary at First Baptist of Chickasha. Shantel is on the track team at Chickasha Hight School and a member of the Junior Honors Society.

Walk MS: Oklahoma City 2014 takes place at the Wild Horse Park in Mustang on May 3. This signature event for the National MS Society raises funds to support MS research as well as programs and services that directly impact more than 11,200 Oklahomans affected by multiple sclerosis, including more than 3,700 diagnosed with the disease, according to Beth Snyder, Development Coordinator of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Visit walkMSok.org to register to walk, volunteer or make a donation. Online registration is currently open. There is no cost to register and no minimum pledge required. However, the average participant raises $225 and fundraising prizes are awarded beginning at the $100 level. Participants may attend a pre-event registration on Tuesday, April 29 from 11am-1pm or 4-6pm at the Oklahoma City National MS Society office (730 W. Wilshire Blvd Ste. 103) or register on-site at Wild Horse Park (1201 N. Mustang Rd.) on event day. On-site registration and check-in begins at 9 a.m., followed by a 10 a.m. official start time. On event day, Oklahoma City’s SkyDance Bridge will light up in the National MS Society’s signature color: orange.

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