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Meredith Jones Jaggard

Msjaggs.blogspot.com

Jaggard documents her unedited journey to beat multiple sclerosis

When Meredith Jones Jaggard ’06 says “MS is the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” jaws drop, eyes narrow and heads tilt. Then she says it again.

“Seriously, MS has been great,” she explains, talking about the multiple sclerosis diagnosis she received three years ago. “Life is crystal clear, and every day I wake up and am so grateful for my life and my relationships. People think I’m crazy, but when life hands you something like this, how you deal with it is how you’re defined.”

When Jaggard was a student at Wofford, she often felt that something was “off.”

“Wofford was so much fun, though. I was living my best life, so I brushed my worries aside,” she says. The extreme fatigue continued, but it didn’t stop her from the physical demands of Interim in Costa Rica or a job at a fly fishing ranch in Colorado after graduation. Finally, in April 2015, she looked at her husband, Alex “Jaggs” Jaggard, and said, “I think I have a brain tumor. Something in my body is not right. I can feel it.”

Doctors in Columbia, S.C., where Jaggard was working in the alumni office at the University of South Carolina, found brain lesions and diagnosed her with MS. One of the physicians painted a particularly grim picture: She soon would be confined to a wheelchair, she would never have children, and she should not expect a long life.

“I knew that was not going to be my story,” says Jaggard, who began blogging primarily so she didn’t have to have the same conversations over and over with family and friends concerned about her health.

“When you’re diagnosed with an incurable disease like this, everyone panics,” Jaggard says. “I didn’t want others to panic because I wasn’t.”

Now she writes because it’s therapeutic. She can look back at previous blogs and see her progress and know that the lifestyle changes she’s made are really working. Jaggard now eats a vegan (plus cheese pizza) diet. She subscribes to yoga and regular exercise, meditation, vitamin supplements and acupuncture, and has cut as much stress as possible out of her life. She and Jaggs also moved from South Carolina to Oregon so she could live in a cooler climate, be near her doctors and finish her fight to beat MS.

“The blog has made my connections with friends, family and people in similar circumstances so rich,” she says. “I get to tell the truth and let others know they’re not alone.”

Since Jaggard changed her lifestyle and moved to Oregon the lesions that were active on her brain have gone away without any scarring. She’s not on medication, which can cause negative side effects, and the disease seems to be under control. Team #MSJaggs has raised more than $30,000 for Walk MS, a yearly fundraiser for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and Meredith and Jaggs are planning a trip to Iceland then to Greece when she officially beats the disease.

“My doctors and neurologists have said, ‘If we could take your attitude and give it to all of our patients, MS would look a lot different,’” says Jaggard, who now works as a social media manager and strategist for a restaurant group in Oregon. “Jaggs and I promised ourselves that we would live our life the way we want our story to be told. We’re doing that every day. Maybe one day I’ll even be telling it on the ‘TODAY’ show with Craig Melvin ’01.”

 

by Jo Ann Mitchell Brasington ’89