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LISA’S STORY

My name is Lisa Cohen.

Even before my MS diagnosis, I became a self-made expert in creating opportunities from scratch, life change and reinvention…out of necessity, really, but mainly because I was truly driven to live a life that I felt I was meant to live.

My first life transition was a bold career change to exit the legal profession.  After finding that work to be way too limiting for me and absolutely NOT a match for who I was or wanted to be, I leapt out of the legal field without a net in order to discover what I truly wanted to do.  After some trial-and-error and without a network or experience in the field, I was able to get my foot in the door in the independent music business.

I absolutely LOVED it. While working to develop my music business skills, I was also fortunate to discover a talent and love for photography, which allowed me to indulge and develop artistic urges that I’d stifled before.

So, here I was…an “escaped” lawyer who had finally found my “thing” managing rock bands and their indie labels, and pursuing a passion for photography.  Everything was going great.  I was inspired, energized, and finally in what felt like my element.

And then, out of nowhere, my eyesight got blurry.  Then I woke up one morning and my legs and back were numb.  In the summer of 2001, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (“MS”). In an instant, my life was turned upside down.

To be both struck with an illness and the possibility of not being able to continue the work I finally found that I loved was a really hard blow.

I found myself experiencing worsening physical impairments. Optic neuritis made regular daily activities and photography more difficult, while the numbness caused mobility problems.

The downtown New York indie music scene that had been my world for five years was no longer physically “safe” for me…

Difficulty with balance and walking simply didn’t match up with navigating dark and crowded venues, musicians’ gear, industry networking and my usual responsibilities at shows. On top of that, debilitating fatigue began to steal my ability to function normally on a day-to-day basis.

In a short period of time, I developed a fear of what my illness and my life might look like in the future.

I began “living small” in many ways, feeling that it might be best to limit myself and adjust to living “safer” because I was sick.  I lived waiting for and wondering when the “other shoe” was going to drop.  Was I going to be in a wheelchair next week?  Tomorrow? 

It didn’t feel reasonable to have “dreams” or try to still be the person that I “used to” be, even during fortunate long stretches of time when my symptoms were in remission.  I basically gave up, and I lived a small, “less than” life for several years. 

Nobody encouraged me to do otherwise and, in fact, it was suggested that I should “resign” myself and not worry about doing anything challenging because I was “sick” (the latter suggestion actually came from a so-called “support group” leader). So, I lived small and on the bench rather than fully engaging in life and expressing my talents.

Have you ever felt invisible? Well, that’s how I felt––Isolated, miserable, and invisible.

However, by nature I am a fighter. After letting MS hog center stage in my life for years, I woke up one day and realized there was no reason to stop being the person I truly was and wanted to be. I decided that, MS or not, I still wanted to live a life that rocks rather than a life on the sidelines.

That day, I embarked on a journey to live a full and empowered life… a “rockstar” life, which I define as one lived by making active, conscious life decisions rather than autopilot decisions by default or resignation simply because of having MS. With some trial-and-error (and many setbacks), I was eventually able to achieve that, even though my life had been at a standstill for so many years.

I was amazed at what I was able to accomplish in spite of increasing disability.  Things far beyond what I could have imagined happened AFTER I became disabled.  I was able to resume my artistic pursuits, even though I couldn’t do my photography in the same way as before; I helped to run a small nonprofit that served women with MS, I had some amazing personal experiences, and I even got my 5 minutes of fame on a billboard in Times Square for an entire week (I know, right??).

Yep, that’s me “Godzilla-sized” on the NASDAQ board in Times Square!

I founded Rockstar Women With MS and began my professional coaching studies in order to help empower women living with MS so that they can get back to the lives they were meant to live.

Today I hope to inspire others to overcome “the BS of having MS” and lead their own “rockstar” lives in spite of how down they feel or how much time they’ve already “lost.”

I was stuck for so long, had lost confidence, and really had no idea how to overcome all of it, but was determined not to give up. I knew the most important step was the first one of making a decision, even though I didn’t yet have the answers or see the path forward. And I knew that the equally important next step was to take action to start finding those answers and the right path for me.

That was my story.  If it sounds like it might be a little like your story too, then I’d love for you to take your first step forward: CLICK HERE and choose the path forward that feels like the best fit for where you are right now.