Hello from this corner of the world! My name is Andrezza Haddaway, I’m a 41-year-old photographer from Brazil and was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2007.
My story really started 10 years prior in 1997 when I was in my 20’s. I woke up one morning feeling very dizzy, sometimes so intense where I felt the world was spinning out of control. It was difficult to even get out of bed. I remember having to hold on tightly to my mattress because I was afraid I would fall while getting up. This non-stop dizziness lasted all week. My life was never the same after that week. After countless relapses and days where it was really hard to drag myself to the bus so I could go to work, I finally had a diagnosis after 10 years.
Besides the overwhelming sensation of dealing with the unknown, I had to deal with the judgment of people. People constantly asked me what was wrong but it was just too difficult to find the right words. This invisible disease that used to come and go silently never made me question myself about it’s existence. I knew it was something serious and one day I would get the answers. I vividly remember saying this to my family and friends many times.
Before my 30th birthday in March of 2007, I had a really severe relapse where I ended up finally meeting the doctor who gave me all the answers to my questions. By that time, the right side of my body was totally weak and the left side was totally numb. I had MS hug 24 hours a day, I could barely move. My mom is my hero because she was with me every step of the way helping me to thrive. I felt like that whole experience was suffocating me slowly but I was fighting with all my strength. The word Multiple Sclerosis was totally unknown to me. Right after I heard the words MS, my doctor said it didn’t have a cure but I would be able to live my life the best way possible. I would learn how to live with MS and move on. He told I would take injections every other day and I said tell me where and I will do everything I can. So I did!
Life brought me to the US in 2011 and love brought me to Virginia where I married a wonderful American man who supports me in all the aspects of my life. Photography was the bridge that led us to meet each other while we were living in different countries. He’s an artist and works as an Art Director for a local magazine. He also works with me in our little photography business during the weekends. I finished a photography project last year expressing in images some of my MS symptoms. I titled this, My MS Journey – The Pain Behind The Beauty, which I am really proud of. I intend to start a new one and my focus will be on photographing other MS warriors doing something that brings them joy.
I have the support from all my family even though they live far away. I’m so thankful for having family, friends and a husband that loves and cares for me. Some of the best moments of my life happened after I was diagnosed with MS. Life doesn’t stop after the diagnosis. You have to reinvent yourself, mold yourself in strength and never give up. Thousands of possibilities still exist to be lived.