All of us face the same universal question at some point in our lives: would we rather know what our last days on Earth will look like, or would it be too hard? The fact is, some people will find out sooner than others – and some won’t find out at all. And it’s simply something we have no control over.
Those who do receive the news earlier than expected face an extremely difficult decision about what to do with that information. And for one Multiple Sclerosis patient, coming to terms with some of her dreams no longer being feasible wasn’t so easy – no matter how much she wanted to.
Years ago, at the time when she was first diagnosed with MS in her 20’s, Janelle Boston was too devastated by the news of her own situation to be able to think positively about anything, short or long-term. One reality that was especially hard to grapple with was the need to abandon a plan that she’d been waiting for decades already…
It was a childhood dream of hers that she deeply regretted having put off so many times. When she was just a little girl, her epic plan to climb Mount Tyson in Tully, Queensland was canceled because of a bad storm. She was so disappointed, but instead of taking the next chance to do it, she overcompensated by waiting until the “perfect” time happened.
Then, she was told that that perfect time would never come – since the neurodegenerative condition damaged her physical ability to hike.
But she was wrong.
Years went by, and Janelle’s life took many turns through the MS. Her own child grew up before her eyes, and had a child of their own, making her a grandmother. She found fulfillment in many things, and life went on…but from time to time, she would still remember the hike, and it filled her with a sense of loss. While browsing Facebook one day, she saw a community post about bucket lists that had never been and might never be completed. Although it couldn’t fix her problem, it made her feel better to know that she wasn’t totally alone. So, naturally, she shared some of her own feelings there about the hike that never came to pass.
And it wasn’t missed on the group administrator, Graham Sollitt. In fact, it gave him one of the best ideas of his life.
“After I read that, I sort of had a lump in my throat and I thought, ‘My God, we have to try and do something about it,’” he told ABC News. “I came up with the idea: why not ask Tully Rugby League if they’d be interested in doing a training run up the mountain and maybe they could take Janelle up there on a training run.” With the rugby team on board, and Sollitt’s fitness trainer recruiting dozens of her own clients to help, the group set out on a mission.
After commissioning a local welder to make a custom metal handicapped chair, the only thing left to do was call Janelle. When they offered to carry her up the mountain, she couldn’t believe it. But after all the planning they’d already done, she certainly had to say yes – finally, her MS couldn’t get in the way!
40 volunteers showed up on the day of the hike, and proceeded to take turns carrying Janelle on the 5-hour hike to the top of the steep mountain. According to Sollitt, “she smiled the whole way.” “I’m ever so grateful to all those people,” Boston’s mother tearfully told ABC, in disbelief. “People like that who are so generous deserve so much recognition. I can say thank you but they just really won’t understand what it means to me, what they have done for Janelle.”