NaomiName Naomi Houghton

Age 24

Where do you call home? British Columbia, Canada

Education: I have a diploma in Occupational Therapist Assistant & Physiotherapist Assistant, FA will ultimately render me unable to perform my job as a rehabilitation assistant, but for now it has allowed me to build better rapport with my clients. I can now relate to their struggles and offer encouragement to them from a genuinely understanding place.

What is your relationship status? I live with my two best friends and greatest supports: Michael, my common-law partner, and Memphis, my Teacup Yorkie.

How long have you known you are living with FA? I was diagnosed with FA two years ago after my brother had gone through a battery of tests to learn that he had this rare disease.

Are there any others with FA in your family? My eldest brother has been diagnosed with FA. I sincerely hope that none of my other 8 siblings are affected, though the odds are stacked.

Naomi 3Describe your transition from walking to walker/wheelchair. Currently, I am still walking, although I have come to rely on the occasional external support, whether it be my partner's arm, walls, and furniture, or a walking stick when I take Memphis for a walk on my own. You'd be surprised how much a 4lbs dog can throw you off balance when he sees a squirrel!

What do you like to do to stay active and what type of exercises work for you to stay strong? I go to the gym 3 times a week to do weight training and core stability exercises. I also like to take Memphis for trail walks or hikes in the beautiful Rockies to maintain my balance and endurance.

Do you have any hobbies or special interests? In the summer my favorite hobbies include camping and canoeing. In the Canadian winter, I hunker down under some blankets with a good book.

What is a good trick to make daily life easier? Let people around you know that you are struggling and allow them to support you. It's so hard to ask for help, but I've learned that people care and want to show their love to you.

When FA gets you down, what do you think/do to feel better? Meditation has helped me refocus my thoughts and let go of negativity when I feel overwhelmed.

Naomi 2What is one way living with FA has POSITIVELY affected your life? FA has taught me to let down my guard and put aside my pride. Doing so has allowed me to experience the love and care that I had never given people the opportunity to show me before. My relationship with friends and family has strengthened, and my heart is full.

What is a favorite motivational quote of yours? "For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn't understand growth, it would look like complete destruction." - Cynthia Occelli

What is the best advice YOU could give to a person who has been newly diagnosed with FA? Embrace the opportunity to never take anything for granted again. Life is beautiful, live it with passion and tenacity.

What is the first thing you want to do when a cure/treatment to FA is found? Hike to the top of Mount Fisher. Every day I see its peak towering over my town, and I know that one day I will climb the 9336ft to the summit.

"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? Another favorite quote of mine is by the author Gregory David Roberts. He says "if fate doesn't make you laugh, you just don't get the joke." And so I laugh in the face of adversity, for life is too short to do anything but.

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