Return Joanne's Abiliy to Walk
Organized by: Alysha Gomes
Joanne Gomes grew up in Anchorage, Alaska towing laundry two miles to get washed and waiting in church pantry lines in order to feed her small family. She lived with her mother who worked three jobs and older sister. Now, this might seem like a sob story; however, it is a story of bravery and pure determination in the face of disaster. Although only a teenager, she continued to excel in school while working full time. She soon moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts and married.
Joanne and her husband proved everyone wrong in creating the business of their dreams. The small car shop quickly grew, moving from a side street shack to a main road corporation. Joanne amazed everyone with her ability to run such a smooth show while caring for her first child, a baby girl. That baby grew to a loving child who wanted a sister!
With her second child, Joanne began to feel weak when going grocery shopping and no longer could walk long distances. Doctors were baffled, some even thought she was making her symptoms up. Joanne ate healthy, exercised on a regular basis, and did not have any significant health problems. We were all stunned two years later when she was officially diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
The disease escalated quickly. Joanne went from walking short distances to needing the assistance of a cane, a walker, and eventually a wheelchair. Not only did it ruin her walking ability, but also her marriage. Twenty seven years of marriage and she walked away with nothing, no husband, no business, no income. Everything she built was ripped away and exchanged with a disability check. She now struggles to assist her 21 year old daughter at college, her teenage daughter, and her sister who has moved in to help care for her, while loosing even more function. The disease is now taking her memory and the ability to use her hands; however, the one thing this disease has not stolen from her is her personality. She still helps everyone she can and is the best mother anyone could ever ask for.
Although she was forced into a chair, she never gave up being an amazing woman. Everyone deserves a chance at what they never expected could be possible. The new stem cell treatment gives our family a hope we have not felt in years. Please help to make this treatment a possibility for my mother. We will be forever thankful.