Hello, my name is Brittany Sommerfield and I am a FARA ambassador. I was diagnosed with Friedreich’s Ataxia when I was 13 and I am 29 years old as of February 2023. I am a Canadian (“eh”) and I live in Manitoba, which is right in the middle and is known as the polar bear capital of the world.
Pre-covid, I worked in the travel industry and it was great. I took a pause in 2020 as traveling, of course, was not happening much. In 2022 I went back but things have really changed. Travelling is definitely not as simple as before. I’ve also found distractions that have taken my focus in working. Long story short I am still a travel agent but very casually, as I am also an active FARA ambassador, a clinical trial participate, an auntie, an Assiniboine Park Conservancy (APC) volunteer, an unprofessional bookkeeper... I try to stay on top of things in the FA (and Ataxia Canada) communities. I am working on focusing on my health by working out, maintining physio, and keeping a healthy diet. I enjoy traveling and definitely spending time with friends and family. All in all I enjoy keeping myself busy (it is helpful to my mental health) and having only one path doesn’t do it for me.
My illness has changed me, mostly for the better. I can see value in such a better light. It has been tough, I won’t lie, but I am who I am today because of it and I am pretty proud of who I am. Having Crohn's disease (dx at 12 in 2006) on top of friedreich's ataxia has definitely pushed the challenge, but at the same time it has made me a warrior. I have hardships- I don’t know anyone who doesn’t, but I still think I’m lucky. I live in a great country, I have a big loving family, some of the greatest friends, my health other than the obvious is taken care of, and, for the most part, I am happy.
"When life gets you down, you know what you gotta do? Just keep swimming." — Dory, Finding Nemo