NASCAR's Trevor Bayne has revealed to the racing world that he has multiple sclerosis
; a chronic disease that attacks the central nervous system. Nevertheless, the 22-year-old does not intend to slow down on or off the race track - with doctors giving him the all-clear to continue competing.
"I've never been more driven to compete," he said in a statement. "My goals are the same as they've been since I started racing. I want to compete at the highest level and I want to win races and championships. I am in the best shape I've ever been in, and I feel good. I'm committed to continuing to take the best care of my body as possible."
Bayne, the youngest-ever winner of the Daytona 500, first noticed something was wrong after experiencing numbness in his arm during a race earlier this year. Doctors at first suspected he may have contracted Lymes Disease due to other symptoms of fatigue, blurred vision, and nausea. Later tests revealed he had the early stages of MS - a disease also shared by his younger sister.
"There are a lot more people in our community and in our world that can relate to somebody who is going through hard times and somebody who is winning races, who is winning championships, who has won the Daytona 500, who looks like he has it all together," said Bayne. "It looks like everything is going great, but how many people can relate to that? So, for me, going through something hard, that shows our true character."
According to the National MS Society
, more than 2.3 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with MS. While there is no cure, doctors have found a combination of medication, physical therapy, and a healthy lifestyle
can help symptoms in check. Relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation may also prove effective. The disease is not terminal - with most people having "a normal or near-normal life expectancy."
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