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    Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway

    Laura Bradford Icon

    On my desk, beside my computer, sits a silver stone with a single word written across the middle.


    The stone, itself, sits in a purple lidded box with the inscription: feel the fear and do it anyway.

    My best friend, Heather (whom you see in the comment section of my posts most weeks), sent it to me after I was thrown one helluva curveball sixteen months ago. She gave it to me as a reminder, I guess, of what I needed to do from that day forward.

    Two weeks after the Good Girls Kill For Money Club blog kicked off in July of 2006, I wrote a post I ended up scrapping at the last minute. Out of fear.

    Fear of what-ifs.

    But, in all the months since, I’ve looked to that silver stone more times than I can count. Mostly at times I’ve needed a boost. Like when I was listening to the jack-hammer of an MRI machine in my ear…again. Like when I was walking down the hall of yet another hospital. Like when I was spending another morning hooked up to a steroid drip to make the numbness stop. Like when I was sitting alone in my doctor’s office hearing the final verdict.

    Multiple Sclerosis.

    For those who don’t know what Multiple Sclerosis is, it’s a disease that attacks the central nervous system via white spots in a person’s brain and/or spinal chord. Meaning, if you can imagine your nerves as electrical wiring, the spots that come with M.S. are places where the insulation around that wiring is actually missing–leaving the wires exposed and ripe for short circuits. Common symptoms of the disease include fatigue, numbness, impaired mobility, chronic aching pain, dizziness/vertigo, leg stiffness, and visual disorders, according to the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA), a national nonprofit organization headquartered in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

    You may have heard about M.S. because of the celebrities that have it—Montel Williams, Richard Pryor, Annette Funicello, and Tamia. But there are nearly half-a-million people in this country who have Multiple Sclerosis. A disease for which, as of now, there is no cure.

    If you saw me at a conference, or walking along the street, you’d have no clue there is anything wrong. But I know. And all those symptoms I mentioned above don’t even come close to describing the hardest of all—the loneliness and the fear that comes with a disease that fires at will, in a different way each and every time.

    And that’s where the courage comes in. For a private person who has always dealt with curveballs on her own, this one is different. Even though we’ve caught this early and I’m doing everything in my power to continue treatment…there are times I get scared and simply need an ear. Or a word of encouragement. Or a hug. Things I find extremely hard to seek from other people because it takes trust, something that, for a lot of reasons, is just as scary to me.

    But Heather has been all of those things and more.

    Harlan (Coben) has been those things—reassuring me those first few weeks that my passion for writing would return (and he was right—Marked by Fate is a book I will always be proud of)…and sticking around to make sure I’m doing okay.

    Paul Guyot got me in touch with a writer friend of his who also has M.S. This friend has been a lifeline at times simply by answering questions and being an inspiration. A person I have never met, yet I treasure all the same.

    Shawn Reilly, my editor, was supportive from the get-go, working with me on that first post-diagnosis deadline because she believed in me even when I wasn’t so sure if *I* did.

    Jacky Sach, my brand new agent at the time, let me know she was behind me every step of the way.

    My friend, Joe, has understood the emotional side like no one else, making me feel as if someone truly gets the undercurrents that go along with something like this. He knows by the tone of an email or the sound of my voice if something is up. He doesn’t run at those times. He doesn’t cut me off. Instead, he asks if I’m okay and then listens to my answer. Because he wants to know.

    And then there’s Jim. Someone very special, whom I’ve known virtually all my life, who simply appeared out of nowhere and tried to be there despite my crappy verbal communication skills, my self paralyzing neurosis, and all the millions of other things that, unfortunately, have resulted in my being far more trouble than I’m worth.

    The list really doesn’t go much longer than that because I’ve kept it relatively quiet. Out of fear.

    Fear of what-ifs.

    What if a publishing house thinks I can’t keep writing. What if people shy away because they don’t know what to say. What if this… And what if that…

    Then I stop. And I look around. And I realize I’ve accomplished a lot in the past sixteen months. I’ve found the courage to seek treatment and am part of a drug study that will hopefully make things easier for future generations. I not only wrote that first post-diagnosis book, I’ve also completed a romance (cross your fingers for me, everyone—I need this one to happen), written a few proposals, and started on a suspense novel that I’m totally psyched about. I’ve taken on not one, but three jobs. And I’m raising two girls. Alone.

    I’ve made some real strides despite some tough times. Strides that I can’t see sometimes because of the hills still to come. Yet Heather is there, all the time, pointing it out, helping me see how much I’ve accomplished so far…and never letting me think, for even a second, that she doubts my ability to move mountains in the future.

    Today I need to believe her. I need to believe I’m going to kick this disease in the butt.

    Because I am.

    And my faithful blog readers know that if I give myself a goal I won’t stop until I make it.

    I realize that sharing this can be a mistake for my career. Editors who don’t know me or my determination to succeed, may shy away from offering me a contract in the future for fear of the unknown.

    But just as writing is a part of me, so too is the pull to make a difference. And if my story can give even one person courage to hang tough when the odds seem stacked…then the gamble I’m taking by sharing this will be more than worth it in the end.

    Here’s to courage…

    And to Heather—for understanding those times when courage escapes me, and staying right there beside me until I find it again.


    **Happy Thanksgiving to all our GGKFMC readers!

    24 Responses to “Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway”

    1. Hi Laura:D

      Yes, courage IS very important in MS, along, I have found, with a deep sense of humour and the ridiculous:D

      You may have heard of the Multiple Sclerosis Resource Centre -, for which I am not only the Webmaster but also the resident village idiot :lol:

      If you fancy a laugh along the way why not visit my “other” site - Squiffy’s House of Fun - Laughter For Multiple Sclerosis - there you will also find my “take” on MS Courage, an account of my 2005 London Marathon adventure on my trusty elbow crutches.

      MS is not the end of the road, and I feel you have expressed this most admirably, and also I admire you for “coming out” of the MS closet, it is risky, it DOES take courage, but ultimately, it shows you who your true friends are and also opens new doors to a whole new group of friends.

      I am going to “stumble” your blog here, as it needs to be seen by a wider non-MS audience to help reinforce the message I am trying to impart to the “unwashed” on Stumbleupon

      keep smiling

      squiffs :D

      by Squiffy on November 20th, 2007 at 2:43 am

    2. I’ve never had any major issues come from my being “out” with MS. There have been minor ones–the employer who wouldn’t make the decision to buy a $300 portable air conditioner until I finally got fed up and told him I’d buy it myself, the producer who covered her own shortcomings by expressing concern about my ability to perform–but I haven’t missed out on any opportunities. And just by my nature: Fuck ‘em if they’ve got a problem with it. I don’t have the patience to pretend I’m what I’m not.

      You do what you can with whatever you have. That’s true whether you’ve got MS or not.

      So do you get all housecleany on steroids?

      by Keith on November 20th, 2007 at 6:59 am

    3. Laura, I have no doubt that you can accomplish whatever you put your mind to! And don’t forget the GG are pulling for you. :)

      by Sara on November 20th, 2007 at 7:27 am

    4. Courage, what a gift. You have good friends and a great support system. One thing I’ve learned this year of the breast cancer is that sometimes you have to open up and let others help. Much easier to say than do, I know. I never have been much of a truster, lots of stories in my past on why, but during this year of trials, I’ve learned I have to trust the people I say I love. And they did come through for me.

      My brother has MS and was diagnosed the week of my first marriage. That and the police sirens going off during the ceremony should have been signs for me. That was almost thirty years ago.

      I think we are lucky to live in the St. Louis area with all the great docs and hospitals. I know it gets tiring being there. Be strong and know that many people are keeping you in their thoughts and prayers. The fear does lessen its hold.

      by Lynn on November 20th, 2007 at 7:36 am

    5. Oh, Laura, you’re my hero. I’m so proud of you for writing this post, but I really am in awe of how you live your life everyday–working, writing, raising your girls, living your life. You rock!

      by judy larsen on November 20th, 2007 at 8:25 am

    6. Nothing like a few tears in the morning…

      What Judy said so beautifully is what I keep trying to tell you. You’re the one who gives US the courage.

      Love and hugs.

      by heather on November 20th, 2007 at 8:34 am

    7. This almost makes up for the fact that Heather likes to steal from orphans.


      by Theo Epstein on November 20th, 2007 at 9:21 am

    8. Laura, I just want you to know that I think you’re special. I may have been mildly interested in sending a compliment to other writers, but I never did until I ‘met’ you. There’s something…nice…about you, in both a big and small picture way. Approachable, responsive, and well, nice, in that I have been very glad to have said ‘Hi’ (and your encouragement of my very feeble writing attempts have been SO appreciated). In fact, I just ‘e-met’ someone yesterday who I thought, in a fletting way, that perhaps I could see if they might want to collaborate on these stories I can’t seem to knit together, but I was getting ready to brush the idea away - out of fear that she’d think it was stupid - but your words have firmed my resolve to ask. Don’t give up - if one way isn’t working, try a different tack - are words, like your courage quote, that I’m going to put on the wall by the writing table. Thank you, and I’m thinking good thoughts your way.

      by Kate Hathway on November 20th, 2007 at 9:51 am

    9. Laura, you’ve got enough courage to inspire all of us. I’m proud of you, baby!!!!


      by Tasha Alexander on November 20th, 2007 at 10:06 am

    10. :hugs: That took guts, lady, and I’m so proud of you.

      When I first started blogging, I debated on outing my own medical difficulties, but then I figured if people couldn’t deal with everything I am, then screw ‘em. (BTW, so you don’t have to scroll through a year’s worth of posts, I’m the survivor of TBI - traumatic brain injury. It’s been almost 14 years, and while it’s mostly a footnote now, it’s always with me.)


      by B.E. Sanderson on November 20th, 2007 at 10:14 am

    11. Laura,

      To one of the first people I went to to talk about my contract when I needed help and reassurance. You’ve been a good friend to me. You know I wish you the best and you know where to find me if you ever need anything.


      by Will Bereswill on November 20th, 2007 at 10:28 am

    12. Laura,

      You are a light to us all. Courage indeed.

      You rock.

      by David Terrenoire on November 20th, 2007 at 11:36 am

    13. Hi Laura
      Hang on in there - sounds like you have the courage to face it all. It’s truly inspiring.

      by Clare Langley-Hawthorne on November 20th, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    14. Girl, you got cojones bigger’n my head.

      by JDRhoades on November 20th, 2007 at 12:22 pm

    15. Laura–your post is so wonderful and inspiring… a message about courage, friendship, faith… You go girl!


      by Sharon on November 20th, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    16. I’ve been trying to think of something inspiring to say, but I think you got that all covered.

      Courage is nothing without the strength to do something with it. Be proud of your achievements. You’ve earned it.

      I’ll stop now, or I might break into “Climb Every Moutain” or something.

      And the last thing you want is for me to go into showtunes.

      by Stephen Blackmoore on November 20th, 2007 at 1:52 pm

    17. Knowing Laura as I do, I am not surprised by this “sudden” courage. She’s had it since that first night I spoke to her. And she’s dealt with much more than MS in her life, and always held her head high, kept her feet firmly on the ground, and always put other people first.

      But what’s truly cool about her is that wrapped up with all that strength and courage is elegance, class, integrity, and one of the most geniunely kind hearts I’ve ever come across.

      I’m not sure I know a kinder individual than Laura Bradford.

      What I am sure of is that nothing can stop her.

      by Guyot on November 20th, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    18. Laura,

      You’re my hero!

      Big Hugs.

      by Lynn in TX on November 20th, 2007 at 6:25 pm

    19. Dear Laura,

      I am the author of “MS & Your Feelings: Handling the Ups and Downs of Multiple Sclerosis.” I’ve lived with MS for 14 years, but reading your blog brought that first year back to me as if it were yesterday. Please know that 14 years into this I am still a psychotherapist with an active practice counseling MS patients, an author and national speaker for the MS society. Know that you are not alone and check out my book. It will help you a great deal and is available at most libraries and MS libraries. I wish you much luck! Cheers,


      by Allison Shadday on November 21st, 2007 at 11:55 am

    20. Laura,

      Courage is not the absence of fear but doing what has to be done, even with fear alongside you. You have a lot of courage both in your fight and for sharing this.


      by Rick on November 21st, 2007 at 12:38 pm

    21. You’re amazing Laura, and you’re never alone.

      by Jim on November 21st, 2007 at 8:46 pm

    22. A big thank you to all of you for stopping by with a healthy dose of encouragement. I appreciate it more than you can ever know. I’m also quite humbled by the words you shared. Thank you!

      Happy Thanksgiving!

      by Laura on November 22nd, 2007 at 9:38 am

    23. Hi Laura,

      I’ve always admired you-you’re beautiful, talented, and have a great outlook that lights up a room. This latest test shows the true grit beneath the pretty face, right?

      The fact that you have the desire to participate in a new study to help others as well as yourself is just another sign of your courage and character. I have no doubt that you will conquer and win. Press on!

      Thanks for sharing,
      Claire Applewhite

      by Claire Applewhite on March 5th, 2008 at 9:44 am

    24. :roll:

      Hi Laura! I’ve met you a couple of times at conferences (GMMC?) and read your books. I’m really sorry to hear about the MS but happy to see your COURAGE! I have two friends with MS and I was captain of our local walk team for a couple of years. This year I’ll be out of town but thinking of them and of you. Take care, hugs, Lonnie

      by Lonnie Cruse on March 6th, 2008 at 11:29 am

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