Faces of MS: Kerri Kiefer-Viverito

Meet Kerri – Fellow MSer, mama of 1, and fitness enthusiast who’s just completed her first triathlon. She gives us all inspiration that anything is possible after diagnosis.

Keri is one of the many MSers I’ve had the privilege of meeting through my blog. She’s the epitome of everything you wouldn’t expect from someone with MS which is precisely why I wanted to feature her story. I was amazed by her drive and motivation to not only live a healthy lifestyle, but to tackle all odds and complete a triathlon too. She claims that MS has actually made her healthier – it’s forced her to incorporate a clean diet and lots of fitness into her life.. very inspiring to say the least!  Everyone, meet Kerri!

Faces of MS

Name: Kerri Kiefer-Viverito

Age: 34

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am from Long Island, NY where I reside with my family. I am married with a son who is 5 years old. I am a Professor of Mathematics at a local college and I am a certified Health Coach.
How old were you when you were diagnosed?

I was diagnosed in April 2008 when I was 25 years old, this was just 3 short months before my wedding.

Tell us a little about your first symptoms and how you were diagnosed. 

Over the course of 3 days I slowly started to lose vision in my right eye. The symptoms started out as annoying to then became painful. I went to my ophthalmologist who performed a series of test and diagnosed me with optic neuritis. He would not let me leave his office without having an appointment with a neurologist. The next day I went to my appointment with my neurologist who then ordered blood work and an MRI. I also had a spinal tap done somewhere along the line. All my tests, MRIs and exacerbations eventually led to a positive MS diagnosis.

I remember thinking so many horrible things of how my life would now be forever changed. Looking back, I look at it as a blessing in disguise as a way to get healthy and strong.

If you had to attest you living Well and Strong to one thing, what would it be? 

I am living well and strong thanks to my MS diagnosis. If it weren’t for me being diagnosed I don’t know how I would be living today. Also, when I became a mom 5 years ago, that was also a reminder that I needed to live well and strong for my son. I refuse to let MS define me, so whatever I can control I will.
What are some of the strategies you use to keep MS under control? 

In order to keep my MS under control, I live a healthy lifestyle. I eat grain-free, dairy-free, and am red meat-free. I exercise 5-6 times a week. My workouts consist of weight training, running, biking and swimming. I try and keep my stress level under control and sleep at least 8 hours a night, but those are my biggest challenges. I also always try to maintain a positive mindset. In addition, for the past 8 years I have been on Copaxone ( first 20mg, then switched to 40mg).What are some of the things you’ve done despite having MS… Any accomplishments?

Well since my diagnosis, I have gotten married, gone on a honeymoon to a “hot climate” (which I was advised not to), bought a house, changed jobs,  and had a baby.

Despite my MS diagnosis, I continue to push my limits. Since my diagnosis 8 years ago, I have completed over a dozen 5K’s, 6 obstacle races, and just recently completed my first triathlon.
What advice would you give someone who’s recently been diagnosed?

My advice to anyone just being diagnosed with MS would be to take each day as it comes & don’t do too much research. Listen to your doctor and confide in others with MS for advice. Keep in mind that no two MS patients are the same from diagnosis to symptoms. Stay active and healthy, and never let this disease define who you are!

Faces of MS Shayla Rosen

“Faces of MS” showcases other people with MS share their experiences and success strategies for living Well and Strong to help the larger community.

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