msf_staff: (Anne Marie)
This morning, Dr. Rob Godsall looked over our crowd and asked "How many of you forgot you had MS while you were on this cruise, looking out at the ocean, or sitting with friend at dinner?"

Hands shot up around the room. "Take life for what it is," he said. "Give MS its due, but give yourself your due, too."

Read more... )
msf_staff: (Anne Marie)
Sometimes, being empowered means doing something you never thought you'd be able to do. For some people, that might mean traveling across the country and taking a cruise. For others, it might be a physical challenge, like snorkeling or walking through the ruins of an ancient city. For some of our cruisers today, it meant holding a snake in the St. Maarten Zoo! Who knew that would be required?

Thursday was our visit to the last island on our trip, St. Maarten, which is a territory of the Netherlands on one side and France on the other. Both sides are lovely, filled with shopping and adventure. As with Wednesday, we had beautiful weather, clear and breezy. The trip to the zoo took about 30 of our group, most in wheelchairs or scooters, to explore the Dutch side of the island, starting with the local birds and animals.

After visiting with talking parrots, colored ibis, and some very cheeky monkeys who liked to throw sand from their enclosure, part of the group headed back to the ship, while others continued to explore the island. In the afternoon, we gathered again for trivia featuring some of our alumni cruisers, MSF staff, and speakers. Who broke their hand while punching out a fifth-grade classmate? We won't tell, but here is one hint: it was a lovely young lady!

Alumni cruiser Melanie Lorenz said she got in a lot of shopping at this port, but she made time to come to the quiz show too, where her veteran cruiser status came in very handy as she guessed clue after clue about her friends from past trips. "Every year, I enjoy this," she said. "There are some people here who I only get to see once a year.”

Tonight is our last formal night, giving everyone a chance to dress up. Tomorrow, our speakers begin again, covering MS symptoms such as cognition difficulties and speaking problems. Stay tuned!
msf_staff: (Default)
Derrick ([livejournal.com profile] haha145) managed to upload some photos from the ship. Unfortunately, he didn't include any captions, but using my Sherlock Holmes-like skills of deduction (i.e. I looked at the dates on the photos and compared them to the itinerary), I managed to figure out the details. Here are the first few.

2 photos )
msf_staff: (Anne Marie)
Just in case you were starting to think the Cruise for a Cause was only about education, check out what we did today.

Our Wednesday started with a breathtaking view. Overnight, the ship arrived in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Even those who didn't get off the ship were wowed by the striking contrast of towering green hills and turquoise sea, dotted even in the early morning with white sailboats.

After breakfast, it was off to the fitness center for a morning workout with personal trainer Jeff Segal. This has been one of the cruise's most popular events each day.

Everyone knows about the importance of exercise, but for people with MS, there is no other choice. No matter what your level of ability -- from wheelchair bound to entirely mobile --
movement helps keep the muscles you need strong. Starting with a demonstration with an exercise ball, sometimes called a Swiss Ball, Jeff showed the group how even sitting on an unstable surface can help you improve your balance and gain strength. Taking volunteers from the crowd, Jeff showed even those who were unsure that they could sit on the ball, at first with Jeff holding their shoulders, and then unassisted!

Resistance and floor exercises, as well as those that can be done with a caretaker, were also covered.

Limbered up for the day, many of our cruisers hit the port for a spot of sun and some shopping. Others took a shore excursion to the peaks of St. Thomas for an unparalleled view. Those who stayed on the ship enjoyed the sunny day and took a dip in the pool.

The more adventurous among us met on Deck 3 for a spot of karaoke before dinner. Led, as always, by the MSF's own musical talent, Derrick Lee, the group belted through the classics, many of which had a special meaning. From "I've Got You Babe" to the MSF round of "We are Family" the music underscored what this trip is all about. Even after the cruise is over and everyone is back on shore, the friendships and support systems built today last all year long!

Tonight, we will be at sea again and meet for a support group meeting at sea. Tomorrow, we will wake up in St. Maarten with a whole new day of exploration ahead.
msf_staff: (Anne Marie)
It's almost time for the MSF's annual Cruise for a Cause! If you can't be with us this year, but want to get a good idea of what the cruise is all about, stay tuned: I'll be updating every day from the ship, Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas, starting Monday, Feb. 9. Look for my blog on LiveJournal, as well as the MSF's Facebook and MySpace pages.

Although the cruise lasts just one week, the MSF staff prepares all year for those seven days. Most of our materials for the week have already been sent ahead to the port and although the boxes were big enough to fit a person or two, they mostly contained goodies for our cruisers. No MSF stowaways allowed!

Although most of our things are already waiting to board the ship, my husband is still tripping over my bags at home; in addition to everything else a person could possibly need for seven days at sea, (raincoat, swimsuit, sweater, flip-flops – check, check, check, check) I'll also be bringing along the MSF video set-up, a camera, lots of notebooks and, of course, my laptop so that we can share the highlights with you here, on our website, www.msfocus.org, and in our quarterly magazine, MSFocus.

There is going to be so much to tell you about! Along with our other expert speakers, we are excited to be bringing aboard an entire group from the Andrew C. Carlos MS Institute at Shepherd in Atlanta, Georgia. Our cruisers are going to learn about what treatments are in the pipeline for treating MS, as well as attend seminars on specific symptoms, such as bladder and bowel problems, difficulty speaking and swallowing, and cognition. In the mornings we'll be working out with personal trainer Jeff Segal. Two of our very special guests, Dr. Karen Thrower and Katie Masterson, will talk about how MS impacts a family and MSF Peer Counselor Jim Masterson, Katie's dad, will lead a support group meeting on board. All that between stops at three Western Caribbean islands!

It's going to be a blast, but if you can't wait to find out more about the cruise, check out our video of last year's trip at http://www.msfocus.org/programs_cruise.php. And don't forget to keep checking back here!

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