Atlanta, GA,
13:53 PM

Patient with MS Shows Dedication Despite Multiple Diagnoses

JoTandria Brown-Leary views her MS Wellness team as family.

Lorelei Benham, MS-SLP, often sees patients who, she says, “see multiple sclerosis as a death sentence. They feel like the odds are stacked against them. And that’s just not the case.”

So when Benham, a speech language pathologist , sees JoTandria Brown-Leary walk each week through the doors of the Eula C. and Andrew C. Carlos Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Rehabilitation and Wellness Program, she instantly brightens.

Like many patients in the Wellness Program, JoTandria, 34, arrives with challenges beyond her relapsing-re- mitting MS. She’s also working to heal from her depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress (PTS), all while raising a family as a single mom.

“But she still shows up every week with a smile on her face,” says Benham, who began working fulltime at Shepherd Center five years ago. “Every time I see her, I try to brighten her day. She sure brightens ours. It gives me more drive.”

Benham says her relationship with JoTandria makes her feel she’s in the right career and providing people with the care they deserve. 

“All of us here are doing this job because we want to help people. And the work we do must be meaningful because she shows up every day. She feels this is a safe place for her to come.”

JoTandria says she views Benham “more like family now – like the sister I never had. I’m not the type that’s easy to open up, but she makes it easy.”

Benham’s bond with JoTandria helps her as a clinician and person, as well, by keeping her grounded.

It puts life in perspective,” Benham says. “It reminds me to give back to others and keep my family as humble as possible without letting problems get in the way.”

Written by Drew Jubera

About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neurological conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 740 inpatients, nearly 280 day program patients and more than 7,100 outpatients each year in more than 46,000 visits.