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Mother Diagnosed With MS Trains For First Boston Marathon

BOSTON (CBS) - Training for the Boston Marathon is a serious commitment – a commitment of both time and energy for training and fundraising. And for one working mom, it also comes with a "life lesson".

Vivian Wexler was so busy caring for everyone else, she had been neglecting herself until a wakeup call gave her the courage to take on the marathon.

"I would never have imagined that I would be running a marathon," said Vivian, who will run with the "Life. Giving. Breakthroughs." team for Brigham and Women's Hospital on Marathon Monday.

Her story is one many women know all too well. She was a young lawyer when she realized something wasn't quite right.

"I was working crazy hours. I'd go to the doctors and ask about the tingling and numbness in my legs. They told me it was stress."

She told herself she'd be fine as soon as things slowed down.

"I prioritized everything else. Of course it was more important to take notes on a conference call than to go to an MRI!"

Vivian's doctor told us it's not an unfamiliar situation.

"It is common, especially with women; women who have kids, and jobs," says Dr. Maria Houtchens, Director of Women's Health at Brigham and Womens' MS Center. "They say 'I'm tired'. Of course, they're tired. And because of that, they will ignore their health a little bit."

Vivian Wexler
Vivian Wexler (WBZ-TV)

In 2006, Vivian was overweight, not eating well, and admittedly – her idea of exercise was the trip from the bedroom to her couch.

"It wasn't until I lost sight- my eyesight in my left eye. I thought it was a migraine, but when it didn't go away, I realized it was diabetes or something more serious."

It was more serious. Vivian was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She began daily injections, which restored her vision, but the numbness and weakness in her legs persisted. And then, in 2009, Vivian gave birth to identical twin girls. They were her wakeup call.

"I was holding Aliya; the girls were two. We were walking and I fell. I remember shielding her so she didn't actually hit, but it was scary for her and it was scary for me," remembers Vivian.

"They were asking all the time, 'Mama, pick me up.. Mama, pick me up'. Well, Mama was having a hard time getting up the stairs herself."

Vivian started running on a treadmill, just 30 seconds at a time in the beginning. Her doctors at Brigham and Women's MS Center put her on a new monthly treatment. It all came together and now she's about to run her first Boston Marathon.

"She went from being stressed, depressed, and overweight, to being fit; she's a long distance runner. How many people can do that who don't have MS?" asks Dr. Houtchens.

"That's a gift, and that's why I'm running. This is how I'm going to usher in the next ten years of living with MS," says Vivian proudly.

Vivian believes there are more marathons in her future, and her girls are ready to follow in mom's footsteps.

"Do you know that they want to run a race with me? They asked to train with me," she said, beaming. "I'm so excited that's going to be a part of their life and it's going to be a priority for them also."

For more information visit Vivian's fundraising page.

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