Jodie Kawa knew from a young age her chances of having a dominantly inherited ataxia, SCA2. Since her diagnosis she has discovered new ways to contribute to helping others as she once was a teacher. She now is very active with the NAF and helps runs the Western North Carolina Ataxia Support Group.
I had no idea growing up that anything was different about me. I wasn’t particularly athletic but neither were some of my friends. I rode bikes and played tag with my friends just like the other kids.
However, when I was 10, my mom told me that she had Ataxia. She said my brother and I would have a 50/50 chance of getting it. I didn’t take the news very well. For a little while I worried about it. I regret giving her a hard time about it. It certainly wasn’t any fault of hers.
From then on, I knew I had it. There was nothing obvious. I had trouble walking in high heel shoes and walking the balance beam.
At age 40, I was working as a preschool teacher and my balance was beginning to effect my work. Even though I loved my job, I decided it was time to get tested.
I visited a local neurologist who observed my walk and concluded that because of the family history, I definitely had Ataxia. A blood test confirmed that I had SCA2.
That was almost 10 years ago. Since then I have attended as many NAF Conferences as possible. I’ve discovered that the Ataxia community are some of the kindest, most helpful and enthusiastic people I’ve ever met. I feel fortunate to have gotten to know these folks. I really enjoy participating in my Support Group and planning a second fundraiser this year!
Jodie Kawa, thank you for sharing your journey with all of us and allowing us to get you know you.
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