Yes, I AM an Expert! By Valerie Benko

When my neurologist diagnosed me with Multiple Sclerosis two months before my 30th birthday, I thought of one thing – what’s going to happen to all of the stories I want to tell, but haven’t found the time to write?

Multiple sclerosis is an auto-immune disease that affects the central nervous system and one of the first symptoms I experienced was memory loss as two large lesions formed on my brain. I always thought I’d have my whole life to write, but my time here was going to be cut short by approximately ten years.

At the time of my diagnosis all I had to show for my attempts as a freelance writer was a pile of rejections and one publishing credit from a children’s story that had been published online. Everything I came across about writing said, “Write what you know.” What did I know? I wasn’t an expert on anything.

For the next three months I battled my disease, struggling against weakness brought on by IV’s, numbness in my legs, depression, forgetfulness and uncertainty. I slowly healed and made up my mind that MS would not defeat me.

And then it hit me; I was now an expert on being an MS patient!

I started writing creative non-fiction about the disease. Before I knew it, the acceptances started rolling in from anthologies like Chicken Soup for the Soul and Pathwork Path, to writing sites like Funds for Writers where I wrote about markets for illnesses.

We’re all an expert at something, whether it’s an illness, being a parent or a hobby we enjoy and there are at least a dozen markets or more for all of them. I have a lot of stories to tell and I’m going to use the time I have to tell as many as I can.

Valerie Benko is a Communications and Community Relations Specialist from Western Pennsylvania. She freelance writes about life with Multiples Sclerosis and is a frequent contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul. Valerie is currently working on a humor book about the disease. Visit her online at to see her other publishing credits.

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