Janet James




Janet James was 22 years old when she was diagnosed with MS—a disease that attacks the body's nerves. She had just graduated from college and gotten a job at an advertising agency when she began to sense that something strange was going on inside her body. When James realized how severe her illness was, she knew she had better hurry up and live life. MS is the biggest crippler of young adults. And although she didn't have many symptoms, she knew it was just a matter of time. First on her agenda was to pursue her dream of hosting a pop music programme. She worked at a radio station for a year, always aware that her body was degenerating. Then her best friend moved away. And one night James began screaming, "I got to go! I got to go!" Two weeks later, she arrived in Alaska, thousands of miles from her friends, her family and her past. "Everything fell into place", she recalls. A 23-year-old girl with an incurable disease can fly to Alaska and everything can work out. The MS attacks came and went. And most of the time they hardly slowed her down. James hiked, fished, learnt to sail and experimented with hot air ballooning. "I lived for adventure", she says. "Nobody ever had a better time or did more exotic strange things than I did in an eight-year period." Inevitably however, the day came when she was so weakened that she had to return to Pittsburgh, her hometown. There she began reliving her adventures by writing a book about them. Her book was published in 1993.