Leah A 5Name: Leah Alstin 

Age: 36

Where do you call home? I live in Victoria, Australia.

Education degree(s): I have two degrees...one is Primary School Teaching and the other is Arts (Sociology).

Who do you live with? I am married to Joel. We have been married for eleven years and have two children — Milla, who is 10 and Chad, who is 8.

What's a typical day for you? A typical day for me involves getting up at 7 am and getting the kids organized for school. Showers, breakfast, making beds, dishes, washing, packing bags, signing diaries, etc. They start school at nine, so after I drop them off, it's Leah time. After school drop off, I head straight to the gym/ physio/ yoga/ the pool...some kind of physical activity. I normally come home for lunch and then work. I then pick the kids up from school at 3:30, take them to any after school activity that they may have. I cook dinner at about 5. Then it's eat dinner, clean up and get ready for bed.

How long have you known you are living with FA? I was diagnosed with FA at 17. I was lucky in that my diagnosis was quite quick. I felt unsteady on my feet, went to the doctor, got referred to a neurologist, had a DNA test and BANG!

Are there any others with FA in your family? I have two distant cousins with FA.

Describe your transition from walking to walker/wheelchair: I started using a walker about six years ago. I probably should have been using one much earlier, but I refused. I was very self-conscious and did not want to stand out more than I already did. Prior to using a walker, I would hold onto people's arms or rely on my kid's prams. Now I love my walker and the independence it gives me. I also have a walker that converts into a wheelchair. I use this a lot at airports when I'm traveling or planning a big day out.

What do you like to do to stay active and what type of exercises work for you to stay strong? I do a lot to stay active, but I think being a mum to two young children is the most active of all! I do strength training at least twice a week, focusing on my core, legs and upper body. I love getting my legs going, so I spend a couple of hours a week on the bike or stepper at the gym. I also love yoga because stretching is super important.

Do you have any hobbies or special interests? I am fortunate that my hobbies and interests also benefit my health. I love exercising. I love yoga and wellness. And I love hanging out with friends, which is good for the soul. I also enjoy reading (a romance/ mystery is my fave), interior design and shopping...maybe a little too much. I am also in the process of starting my own business. It is called ruby seven. I can't give too much away as I haven't launched the product yet. $5 from every sale will go to fara. Watch this space!!

Leah collageWhat is a good trick to make daily life easier? A good trick to make daily life easier with FA is to accept help! People love helping!

When FA gets you down, what do you think/do to feel better? When FA gets me down, I try to think of all of the things that I can do. They always outweigh the things I can't. I also try to roll with these emotions. More often than not, they pass.

What is one way living with FA has POSITIVELY affected your life? FA is definitely not all negative. I feel it has had many positive effects on my life. The biggest one being my level of gratitude. I am so grateful for the smallest things!

What is a favorite motivational quote of yours? 'I am thankful for my struggle because, without it, I wouldn't have stumbled across my strength.'

What is a piece of advice that someone with FA has given you that encourages and inspires you? A piece of advice that someone with FA has given me is 'it's ok to fall over, as long as you get back up.'

What is the best advice YOU could give to a person who has been newly diagnosed with FA? A piece of advice that I would give someone who has been newly diagnosed with FA is 'we are all different. Never compare yourself to others'.

What is the first thing you want to do when a cure/treatment to FA is found? The first thing I will do when a cure or treatment is found for FA is go for a walk with my family, unassisted.

"I have FA, but FA doesn't have me." What does this statement mean to you? How do you live your life in the face of adversity? 'I have FA, but FA doesn't have me.' To me, this statement means that FA is just a challenge in my life. A bump in the road. It will never beat me.

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