MS Diagnosis Inspires Travel | Sanibel Island, FL

When Shaina Gottwalt of Royalton Mn was diagnosed with MS at the young age of 23 she had two choices…let it define her or let it inspire her. She chose wisely and has followed Oscar Wilde’s advice since, “live life with no excuses and travel the world with no regrets.”

Here is Shaina’s story:

“It’s not the destination where you end up, but all the memories, experiences and mishaps you encounter along throughout your adventure here on earth. January 2nd, 2003 was a day that changed my life forever. I woke up for work like I do every other day, but this time I had blurry vision. I went in and the diagnosis was probable MS lesions. After a series of tests, I was officially diagnosed with MS. When you are diagnosed with any disease, condition or cancer, the first thing that happens (or at least what happened to me) is your mind begins to dream up every worst possible case scenario, and sometimes you are mislead to believe the worse which is the case with me. I expected to be in a wheelchair by the age of 30 and even more disabled by age 40. Well, I’m lucky to say that 40 year milestone came this year and I am far from having any kid of disability! In fact, I am in better health than I have been in the past years.”

“The day I was diagnosed I felt like my world was crashing down, so I did whatever I could to make the time I had as being ‘normal’ be meaningful and memorable for my daughters. I ended up booking a vacation to Mexico with my 6 year old daughter and my mom three days after. We flew out the very next week. Then I was hooked! My love for travel has inspired me to live my life to the fullest and I do my best to never take a day for granted. Tomorrow is never a guarantee for anyone.”

“I am a person who will pick an experience every time over a tangible item. This trip with my two nieces was no different. When Trisha mentioned she was giving her daughter (my niece) Layna a trip to the ocean for Christmas I decided to jump on the idea and gifted my God-daughter Avery a trip (with some help from the parents;) It was a trip of many first for her including flying, seeing the ocean and leaving Minnesota. I loved the special time I was able to share with the girls on Sanibel Island and Estero Beach and I’m quite certain they will remember and appreciate this gift more than any outfit or toy!”

“When you are going through your day it’s easy to get caught up on the negatives and sadness in the world, but you must work hard to keep a positive outlook. if you find yourself not being happy often, then it’s to change your life and routines. This change can be as simple as taking a little trip. Travel gives me my escape and is my personal reset. For me it’s very much an important priority in my life. Try to surround yourself with love, family and friends and live your dream.”

Story documented by Xsperience Photography

LOCATIONS: Sunset Beach Inn, Sanibel Island, Florida | Sundial Beach Resort and Spa, Sanibel Island, Florida | Local boat charter from Estero Beach to Hickory Island to see dolphins and seashell picking

Contact Xsperience Photography if you have a story you’d like to share. One story is documented for free each year. Others will receive a custom quote ranging from $500-$1750.

13 comments
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  • lorie

    Great story, you are right on target. Keep resetting the clock and keep great people around you… Good work on the photos .ReplyCancel

  • Samantha

    Oh what a story!! I love that she documented this difficult time in her life and what an honor it must have been to capture it for her/them. Love when folks turn something bad into something inspiring.ReplyCancel

  • What an inspiring story! And a beautiful way to document these memories for her and her family at Sanibel Island.ReplyCancel

  • YES!  This is the way to live your life.  ReplyCancel

  • Justyna

    I need more beach time in my lfe! GahReplyCancel

  • Olivia

    This post brought tears to me eyes. Such a raw, beautiful story. The photos are so strong and show just how strong she is. Lovely work. ReplyCancel

  • I love how pictures can help a healing process. You captured this so well and your images are stunning!ReplyCancel

  • Mollie Adams

    What a beautiful story and beautiful photos! ReplyCancel

  • Man, I cannot imagine being diagnosed with MS, even with family members being diagnosed. This is so inspiring! ReplyCancel

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