Michael Johnson / The Livingston County News
Nicole Lincourt, center, who has multiple sclerosis, is able to cope with the nerve condition with help from her boyfriend, Don Meisenzahl, with whom she sings in his southern rock band Throwin’ Stones, left, and her boss at The Geneseo Family Restaurant, Tedd Tsoukaio, right, who is donating a portion of customers’ checks to the Multiple Sclerosis Society in a fundraiser that continues through Sunday.
MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS WEEEK
MS Ambassador says pets and attitude help her cope
Nicole Lincourt of Lakeville has no issue with letting people know she has multiple sclerosis.
“It’s part of who I am,” she said. “For me, to keep this hidden would be being ashamed of it. I’m not ashamed of it because I’ve been doing such a good job coping with it, keeping my attitude good.”
Multiple sclerosis, a disease caused by deterioration of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, affects about 400,000 persons in upstate New York.
Nicole was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 13 years ago when she was 28. She remained in Stage 1 until April of last year when her diagnosis was advanced to Stage 2.
Until the recent Stage 2 diagnosis, Nicole worked two jobs, as a waitress/hostess at The Geneseo Family Restaurant and as a postal worker for Strong Hospital, sorting, lifting and delivering mail within the hospital.
Today she continues to waitress or hostess occasionally and she still sings in her boyfriend Don Meisenzahl’s southern rock and county band, Throwin’ Stones. (They will be appearing at the Old Madrid in Dansville on March 16, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.)
“You learn to maintain a lower level of stress, and when you can and when you can’t push yourself,” Nicole advised. “It’s okay to move around and do things, but there are days when I have to just sit down and take it easy. If I push myself too far I will experience total numbness on one side of my body and it will look like I’ve had a stroke.”
“On those days, it can be an emotional roller coaster. I can be happy one minute and angry and crying the next.”
“It was hard being first diagnosed,” Nicole relates, “Especially having to tell my daughter, who was just six at the time, and having to tell my seven brothers and sisters.”
“But it helps to beat this if you maintain your therapies, continue to see your neurologist, and — especially — if you can maintain a good attitude,” she attested.
Something else Nicole did, as a part of her own therapy and as a way of helping others, was to become an ambassador for the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
As an MS Ambassador, Nicole has undergone the training and committed herself to a contract with the society to serve as a representative. She has begun making herself available as a speaker for schools, health fairs and other events, where she educates persons about MS, describing how the disease affects oneself and one’s loved ones.
“We want to let people know what MS is, but we also want to let them know we are searching for a cure — and give hope to those who have MS,” Nicole said.
Nicole’s first effort at fundraising for the society is this week’s coupon deal at the Family Restaurant.
Support also comes from the many members of Nicole’s large family who are regular participants in the local MS walks, runs, bike-a-thons and golf tourneys.
Knowledge of MS is important for both the person afflicted and those who have contact with the person.
Nicole cites an example: “If I’m having a bad day, the people at work will know what it is and why. They will understand and leave me to myself — but they can also be a wonderful support system, depending on what the situation calls for.”
Whether MS has a hereditary or environmental cause remains an unanswered question. Nicole is the only one of eight siblings afflicted with the disease, but the fact that she has MS does make it a greater statistical likelihood that her daughter will be afflicted at some point in her life.
Nicole believes in pet therapy as a tool in slowing down the progression of MS. She and Don have two dogs and a cat, which they enjoy and which are important for keeping down Nicole’s levels of stress.
Speaking of her St. Bernard “Gypsy”, Nicole said, “I dote on her and she dotes on me.”
Meal check will assist MS Society
Multiple Sclerosis Week began Monday and continues through Sunday.
In recognition of the week, Nicole has involved her boss, Teddy Tsoukaios of The Geneseo Family Restaurant, who will be honoring customer coupons for breakfast, lunch or dinner by donating 10 percent of each check to the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
The money will be used for continuing research into a cure for MS.
The Geneseo Family Restaurant, at 105 Main Street, is open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Coupons can be obtained at Avon Auto Parts, online at www.msupstateny.org/, and right at the cash register in the restaurant.