Erin Cammarata was living what some might call the American dream. She was in her thirties, making six figures as a Vice President of a large organization in the heart of Boston, managing 150 employees across 7 states. Things were overall going great for Erin.
That was all until that one day when Erin woke up – blind in both eyes. Her vision was a blank wall of gray. Erin was rushed to the hospital, immediately admitted and began undergoing numerous tests. Erin was kept in the hospital for 5 days, on the 5th day her vision finally came back. After countless tests – Erin was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and finally released from the hospital. A few days later, Erin met with her Neurologist who began to explain her diagnosis a bit further, he explained she had lesions on her optic nerves, which had been the cause of the debilitating headaches she'd been experiencing and what had eventually caused her to go blind. On that day, she was diagnosed more specifically with Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS).
Multiple Sclerosis happens when your immune system attacks myelin, a material that wraps around your nerve fibers to protect them. Without this wrap, your nerves become damaged. The damage means your brain can’t send signals through your body properly, causing your nerves to not function correctly, impairing how you move and feel. RRMS is known by the onset of relapses (attacks), when your symptoms suddenly flare up. Typically, these relapses don’t happen as often, but the disease progressively get worse. So, you could go for a few weeks feeling fine and then suddenly you’ll have a relapse; whether it be from stress, poor eating habits, not enough sleep etc. and then in a few days you’ll usually feel better again. Unfortunately, there is no cure for MS, there is only medication that slows down the progression of the disease.
Before leaving her Neurologist’s office that day, Erin made a promise to him, she promised she would be the best MS patient he’d ever have, she promised that she wouldn't make this disease a death sentence and that’s exactly what she did. She knew she didn’t want to be defined as someone who was permanently disabled.
Erin's life quickly changed, including her priorities and goals, she knew right away that she wanted to become a Life Coach. She quickly enrolled in coaching school, which allowed her to start identifying so much of herself through what she was learning. The process truly helped her through her diagnosis and the overall acceptance of her disease. Coaching school allowed her to figure out who she REALLY was.
Soon after, Erin began coaching people on the side but for her it was never about the money, she just wanted to help people and prove to people their own potential. Coaching made it very clear to Erin that her 9-5 was not what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. She wanted to be social, build relationships and help people, and her current role didn’t allow her the opportunity to do this.
With her newfound training and outlook on life, she wanted to use her skills to coach and consult others and help people improve themselves and their lives. This is when she created her own business, CBS Consulting. Erin became a business coach, consulting businesses on how to run their day to day more smoothly, streamline their workflows and stimulate cash flow. Erin was able to grow this business and turn it in to a multi-million-dollar business in 7 quick years. Though Erin loved this business she built she still felt like something was missing and always in the back of her head was the idea, Life. Design Your Own.
As the years progressed, so did Erin’s MS. Erin eventually lost most of the strength in her hands and couldn’t even pick up a mug and hold it confidently with one hand, simply holding a pen and writing for an extended period was a huge challenge. Erin was no longer able to cook by herself, she didn’t have the strength in her hands to be able to lift a skillet or a pot. She needed to hold someone’s arm when she walked. Mornings were always the biggest challenge, it would take Erin 45 minutes to an hour just to get moving in the morning. She needed this time to gain function back in her feet, to be able to stand or walk and had to wait for the numbness in her hands to go away. Erin’s motor skills were slowly deteriorating. She needed to purchase a seat for her shower to be able to sit and rest while showering, the fatigue was debilitating most days. Most nights she would sleep a solid 8 hours to wake up entirely exhausted.
Erin got to a point where these debilitating symptoms were her every day life. Erin’s diagnosis changed from Relapsing-Remitting MS to Secondary-Progressive MS. The only thing that stayed the same throughout the years was the pact that she had made with her Neurologist, that she was going to be the best MS patient he ever had. A CT scan showed an increased number of lesions on her brain and her symptoms began to worsen rapidly. Through all this, Erin always continued to remain positive and to look at everything that she was facing as an opportunity and a gift. She was never willing to become a victim of the disease but as the illness began to progressively worsen she knew she needed to look at the big picture and identify alternative ways to manage and somehow control this disease.
Without consent from her doctor, Erin made the decision to try Stem Cell Therapy. In May of 2018 she flew to Clearwater, Florida and received her first Stem Cell Therapy Treatment. The process was to extract adipose stem cells from her belly and then inject them into her cerebral spinal fluid through an IV infusion. There was no guarantee that this process would work or that she would feel any better. The treatment was an entirely out of pocket expense, not currently covered by any insurance. At this point she felt she had nothing left to lose. A $15,000 investment, at this point the risk was worth the possibility of reward.
Fast forward 5 days after the treatment, the numbness in Erin’s hands was gone, she couldn’t even recall the last time she had so much energy. In just a few days she was able to cook independently, walk without holding someone’s arm, she had so much energy she couldn’t stop moving. The Stem Cell Therapy was a huge success and has been an absolute blessing for Erin, to present day!
Erin’s life entirely changed after being diagnosed with MS; she became limited by what she could do, her energy levels decreased greatly but at the same time her daily levels of gratitude increased. “With MS you never know how you’re going to feel each day until you put your feet on the floor and you never know how your day will go,” says Erin. Erin’s diagnosis made her appreciate every day and the little things we take for granted like something as simple as brushing your teeth in the morning. MS helped her learn that everything in life is temporary, be it good or bad. "When life is going great, savor the present moment because at any point it can change. Every day is an opportunity to appreciate all that is in front of you and try to understand what lesson you are supposed to learn each day." With her diagnosis Erin chose to take control and dictate how her life would go rather than let her illness or life dictate it for her. With this shift in her mindset she knew she had to share this philosophy with the world - you are in full control of your own life and by setting intentions and goals for your day you can be in direct control your life, which is ultimately how Life. Design Your Own came to be.