Ten years ago, if you told BWH patient Vivian Wexler she would be running a marathon, she wouldn’t have believed it. After ignoring warning signs and symptoms for years, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2006.
“I was always making the excuse that I was too busy to seek medical attention,” said Wexler, of Hingham. “I scheduled doctors’ appointments and MRIs and canceled them; there was always a conference call for work that conflicted and took priority.”
At the time Wexler was diagnosed with MS, she says her health was an afterthought and she attributed her symptoms to stress. She lost sight in her left eye and was overweight, and in 2007, at the age of 32, she needed a cane to walk. “I will never forget the look in my mother’s eyes when she saw me walking with the cane for the first time,” she said.
Wexler, a lawyer, wife and mother, received a major wake-up call after her twin girls were born in 2009. When they turned three, Wexler couldn’t carry them up the stairs anymore. She felt tired, winded and weak. She realized that if she didn’t do something, she would never be able to carry them again. So she began walking and jogging on a treadmill and adopted healthier eating habits to manage her MS-related fatigue. Slowly, Wexler began to experience a transformation.
Fast-forward to 2016. Wexler is 65 pounds lighter and has regained her eyesight and run six half-marathons. She can carry both of her girls up the stairs at the same time. While she does experience some symptoms of MS, such as occasional numbness in her legs, Wexler isn’t letting that break her stride.
Turning 40 this year and feeling healthy and strong, Wexler could think of no better way to celebrate than to run the 2016 Boston Marathon with BWH’s Life.Giving.Breakthroughs. Marathon Team. It will be her first marathon.
“Every step of the way, I’ve experienced such unbelievable blessings from the Brigham,” she said. “I am lucky I have a team of excellent doctors who have been so successful in caring for and rehabilitating me and helping me maintain my health. I also have the Brigham to thank for delivering and caring for my baby girls. Giving back is the least I can do to demonstrate my gratitude for all that the hospital and its exceptional staff have done and continue to do for me.”
Wexler says that training has gone well for this year’s race. She’s looking forward to running alongside thousands of other runners on April 18 and crossing the finish line.
“I’ve come this far, and nothing is going to slow me down,” she said. “Running the Boston Marathon, a race that is a symbol of resilience, and commemorating the past decade, during which I’ve discovered how important resilience is to living my best life—I believe nothing could be more meaningful to me.”
To learn more about the BWH Marathon Program, visit BWHMarathonProgram.org.