Susanne and her Family & Friends

When they asked her for the photo session, Susanne Daalhuizen (38), after only a moment of doubt, said yes. It’s good for me to get out of my comfort zone more often. I have to do something more often, don’t think about it too much”. Susanne has MS. She decided on a picture with her cat Simba. “An incredibly cuddly animal. And her two personal trainers, Anthony and Sanne Beumer. “Giants.”

By Edward Swier

Susanne had been walking around with vague complaints for years. “I’ve always been very athletic. She regularly participated in challenging events such as the Mudmasters. “But at one point, I started to notice for myself that I was walking weird, I started dragging my leg.

The first tests didn’t yield anything. But the help of a manual therapist from the Military Rehabilitation Centre brought clarity. He sent Susanne to a neurologist who did a scan. The scan showed that my head was full of spots. Scars, from seizures I appeared to have had. The diagnosis: MS. Relapsing remitting MS to be precise. I’ve known that since October 2016. And that’s, it might sound crazy, kind of a relief. “Ever since then, I’ve known that I wasn’t acting crazy, that I wasn’t crazy in my head.

There were times when things went really bad with Susanne, that she talked a lot with double tongue. And couldn’t move without her crutches. That she barely came forward, and started to hide. Now she has more strength and balance, she’s not that tired anymore. That also means that she can exercise better and more. She even took part in Mudmasters again. “In September 2017, I did one, with the help of five buddies and a stool. That was quite a challenge. “But in 2018, I’ve even done five more.

And she is now preparing for the Invictus Games, which were recently postponed to 2021. With the help of two personal trainers. “Almost four years after the diagnosis, I have so much more strength and balance. Sometimes I can still just wonder about it.”

Where others – of course – care about her fate, she has decided not to get upset anyway. “Okay, of course, a diagnosis like that hacks in. You might think, “oh what the hell, why is this happening to me? And not somebody else? But that doesn’t make sense. You’d better ask yourself what you can do later on. For example, I’ve never stopped playing sports. It was sometimes very difficult, but I felt that I could benefit from it. Sport is also good for your head, it gives you peace of mind. I’m convinced I would have it much harder if I didn’t play sports”.

She is very happy with the help of her two personal trainers, from Push Training Studio in her hometown Nieuwegein. Anthony and Sanne are brother and sister. Both of them accompany Susanne, among other things during the CrossFit trainings. They’re really top-notch, I benefit a lot from their training sessions. They also give you confidence, teach you to build on your body again. We do a lot of strength building. And there are regular rowing sessions on the ergometer. Then you die completely. Figuratively, then.

Although she used to be mainly an endurance runner (‘I always had the idea that I only got going after five kilometres”), the trainings showed that Susanne is now mainly a sprinter. At the Invictus Games in 2021 she will compete in the 100, 200 and 300 meters. When it was still open, I also trained regularly on the track.

By the way, she had to get used to the idea of participating in the Invictus Games for a long time. I’m quite a loner. The MS has exacerbated that, you don’t react very well to external stimuli. It tires you out, the symptoms can get worse. You soon choose the silence. I find it very exciting, I wasn’t looking forward to it for a long time. Of course, an event like this gets you out of your comfort zone quite a bit. I find that quite scary, exciting. On the other hand, thanks to the stories of others, I know it will be a unique experience. And I’ve experienced that these days I also recover faster if I challenge myself to things like this. So there’s no reason not to participate”, says Susanne, who by the way left Defence in 2003. Until the beginning of 2019 Susanne worked for the police, at the national service number 0900-8844. “Now I’m in the WIA. Acid, but it gives more peace and quiet.

Finally, she comes back to her choice for the photo session. She wants to explain why she chose Anthony and Sanne, and not family members. My parents are coming to the Invictus Games later, as Family & Friends. They already have an important task there for me. And of course I could have asked my sisters, but they saw for themselves how important Anthony and Sanne have become on the road to recovery for me”.

What about Simba? I have two cats. Simba came in last. She’s only nine months old, always wants to cuddle. She chases you around the house, whines when she thinks you can’t see her for a while. But is there for you when you’re not feeling so good about yourself. “As far as I’m concerned, Simba’s a  help cat.

Portraits: Ed O’Mahoney

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