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Hi, I’m Andrea Hanson. I can’t wait for you to dive into the podcast episodes. But before you do, I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself, tell you a little bit about my own story of being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and why I think the guests on this podcast are so important.

Learn how I worked through the trauma of developing a chronic illness. And how I’m taking everything I’ve learned through living with MS for over two decades, being a master certified coach, author, course creator, workshop leader, and more – and bringing it to help you in your journey to create a beautiful, fulfilling life. Please enjoy. 

Andrea Hanson

Andrea Hanson Live Your Life, Not Your Diagnosis

Andrea W. Hanson is a bestselling author of two books about having a powerful mindset while living with a diagnosis; Live Your Life, Not Your Diagnosis and Stop Carrying The Weight of Your MS. She’s also a master life and mindset coach who’s lived with multiple sclerosis for over two decades. 

Andrea hosts the Live Your Life, Not Your Diagnosis podcast, inspiring listeners living with a chronic illness to go after their goals and passions. Andrea has consulted with organizations such as the National MS Society and MS Society of America to teach about positive thinking and self-talk. 

In her coaching business, Andrea helps clients quiet their inner critics so they can listen to their inner guidance and have the confidence to create a successful and fulfilling life on their terms.

You can often find Andrea hiking or cruising on her e-bike around various mountain towns. And, of course, enjoying a little rest and relaxation with her husband and blue heeler, Hayley.

You can learn more about Andrea, including how to get on the waiting list for her upcoming online course at

Connect with Andrea:

Episode Resources

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NOTE: This podcast was transcribed by an AI tool. Please forgive any typos or errors.

A Quick Podcast Intro –
Meet Andrea Hanson

[00:00:00] Hi, everyone. I'm so glad you're here. I'm Andrea Hanson. And I wanted to take a minute to introduce myself as the host of the newly-minted. Live Your Life, Not Your Diagnosis podcast
For you longtime listeners. This used to be called the health mindset podcast. I'm changing the name with a new season and a brand-new look, both inside and out. And I’ll fill you in on how it's going to look in a minute
If you have a chronic illness or love and care for someone who does. And want to believe that achieving big goals in life is still possible. Even when facing challenges, you're in the right place. This podcast is for those who want to be inspired, motivated, blown away, and entertained by stories from people achieving their dreams while living with a chronic illness.
It's also where you can get valuable [00:01:00] mindset, tools, and information to help you along your own path to achieving your dreams. Look. I'll always be honest with you. When I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I felt like I got sucked into the sick bubble. One that focused on the suffering and the hardships and where any ideas of control over my life and feeling positive were simply platitudes.
There was so much more focus on the trauma and the problems of a diagnosis than what to do next. And obviously for a good reason.
Before I go on, I want to address what happens when we're first diagnosed. And I went through every single step of this. We grieve. We have to process trauma. We have to learn our bodies all over again. Or if you're like me for the first time. We have to learn how to exist in a whole new system of healthcare and [00:02:00] millions of different types of doctors and practitioners and holistic tools.
And we do all of it. While dealing with symptoms, sometimes side effects, social and emotional upheaval. And a big steaming pile of uncertainty and fear. It took me years to trudge through that. One of the first things I did when I was diagnosed was to go to a psychologist. Therapy is in valuable. I cannot say that enough. And I'm sure I would not have made it without it. I always highly recommend it because a new diagnosis is not to be underestimated. So I'm not disregarding what happens when we're newly diagnosed.
But I faced it and I got through it the best that I could. And then I was left. Like so many of us are looking around and wondering what now. What happens after that initial trauma is processed. What's next. [00:03:00] I fought hard to keep my ambitions while looking around for examples of people with a chronic illness
who did the same and those examples were really difficult to find. Not because they didn't exist. But because they weren't highlighted as much as I believe that they should be.
Both as examples of what's possible for people who are ready to move on. And also as examples of what's possible on the other side of trauma, for people who aren't quite ready to go there yet. Which is why I want to seek out these stories and curate them for you. And selfishly for me too. I want to share these stories from people from all walks of life that use different ideas and methods to create a life that they love.
I think hearing different voices, talking about navigating their own illness to create a fulfilling life is one of the most important things to hear when you're living with a chronic illness yourself. And I'm so excited to share these amazing conversations with you. [00:04:00]
For those of you who are new to this podcast, or haven't worked with me before. Let me take a minute to introduce myself and tell you a little bit about my own story.
If I were to pick the start of my journey. I would say that it was when I was in the middle of graduate school. I was studying early childhood disorders. And I was walking down the hallway. I was in between classes and I had an arm full of books and papers, and God knows what. And I went to just brush a piece of hair out of my eye as one does.
Except I missed. I missed my hair and I poked my finger right into my eye. Really, really hard. Now that's not unusual. And I guess I'm kind of, I've always kind of been a klutz. And after my eye stopped watering. I just carried on with my day. But soon after that, my eyesight in that eye [00:05:00] started to shut down.
It was like someone pulling a window shade down right from the top down. And I came to the only logical conclusion. That I could at the time. And I thought I must've detached my retina. When I poked my eye. So, I drove myself to the ophthalmologist. Now I want to stop for a public service announcement.
Do not do what I did. And drive on a freeway when your eyesight is compromised. Um, I have. I really have no excuse. The only thing I can say is I was young and still pretty invincible. And I don't know, I just really wanted to get to this doctor appointments and, um, that was the only way I could think of. So.
Luckily. My ophthalmologist that I did get to safely without incident. When driving. She was really, really smart. And she saw right away that things were not good. [00:06:00] I remember that brief conversation of me saying, oh shit. To the news that she gave me. And she just nodded and said, oh, shit is right.
I'm so glad that she knew exactly what to do. And I was literally shuttled down the hall to a neuro ophthalmologist who became one of my favorite doctors. And after looking at my eye, he then. Shuttled me upstairs to where the hospital was and where my new MS specialist. And now a dear friend of mine gave me the news.
You're on fire. Is how he put it. He said there is no doubt that you have MS.
I was 22 when I got that diagnosis for multiple sclerosis. Like most people who receive a diagnosis, it didn't come right away. As I thought back, I probably had had it for at least a year. And [00:07:00] received the typical gaslighting from doctors who had no idea really what MS was or what was happening. And so, they just thought I was overreacting or I was just overweight.
And it would all go away if I just lost weight and. The thing is, is because my MS is relapsing remitting. They would kind of, the symptoms were kind of go away on their own. And so I would give up going to the doctors because they clearly didn't know what was going on anyway. And I thought I was better.
Anyway. That is all a water under the bridge. Because once I had my diagnosis. I was given something. Invaluable. I was given a villain. To my own hero's journey.
Now, I've always had a healthy problem with authority. Always, and it was really easy for me to immediately rebel against this new situation. I want to be really clear. I didn't rebel against the [00:08:00] diagnosis. I didn't ignore my MS I started treatment right away in multiple ways. I hit that monster head on. I threw a lot at it because it was throwing a lot at me.
What I rebelled against was this box that everyone wanted to put me into that box that says you can no longer do. Even the basic things like taking a hot shower. You have to get ready for a life in a wheelchair. You can no longer do anything remotely stressful. So forget your big career dreams and settle for something that is much less exciting.
I rebelled against that box that said I no longer had control over my life. And that rebellion gave me the motivation to do everything in my power to get healthy again.
I started working out really hard, even though they told me not to, because I couldn't do anything too stressful. I did it. I started [00:09:00] weightlifting running. Jiu-jitsu cycling. You name it? I did it. I even backpacked for a week in Peru on the Inca trail up to Machu Picchu. And then hung out and the Peruvian rainforest for like a week after that.
I traveled all over the world. I dated, I got married.
A lot of the time I did this. While having various treatments in the hospital and managing my social life around various strange MS Symptoms. Often ones that nobody knew that I was even dealing with because my MS has always been invisible to other people. And I would just smile when people said how great I looked, even though sometimes I could only see them through one eye.
But on my quest for health. I picked up a book. Called finding your own north star by Martha Beck. This book made such an impression on me that I went on to learn from her in person. And at first it was all for me to learn how to apply another healing [00:10:00] method. Get another tool in my toolbox.
But then I realized it was so much more.
I got certified in her program, a coaching program. I started coaching and teaching classes and workshops all over the place. Um, and for organizations like the national Ms. Society and the Ms. Society of America. I got two more coaching certifications. Along the way I became a master certified coach, as well as finishing my master's degree in, uh, the university in human development and early childhood disorders.
I published two books of my own on mindset and chronic illness. One is called Stop Carrying the Weight of Your MS. And the other book is called Live Your Life, Not Your Diagnosis. Which is what I named this podcast after. I started coaching people with MS and created my first podcast, the health mindset podcast.
And I was doing great. I was helping a lot of people, and I was burning [00:11:00] myself right out. The interesting thing. Is it the whole time I was listening to my body. I was processing emotions. I was resting when I need it. I was meditating. What I needed to I was eating healthy foods.
I was taking care of myself. But you can take care of yourself and push yourself too hard at the same time. That's what makes burnout the biggest blind side. It's because you think taking care of yourself and doing things that you love makes you immune from burnout. It does not.
Now I had great teachers while I was building my business and doing all of these great things. But most of them had no idea what it was like to have a chronic illness. And me, I'm always the A-plus student. I always wanted to keep up. I pushed myself harder when other people said that I was stalling or procrastinating, or my favorite is, you know, you're scared.
You're just [00:12:00] scared of your success. I would push myself and I was building my model of success based on what my inner critic said. And I was ignoring what my body said. A little too often. So I could stay on target with all these other people that I was studying with and learning with. Now nobody, nobody is a hundred percent perfect. But for me, the career that I was building.
Was unsustainable. So I stepped away. And I had some deep conversations with myself about what I wanted and more importantly, how I wanted it. And right when I thought I had it all figured out. I lost my father.
If you read my first book. Live Your Life, Not Your Diagnosis. You know how close I was with my dad. And how invaluable our relationship was for me. That loss broke me apart. For a while. [00:13:00] And I let it. Everybody grieves differently. And for me, the only way that I can describe it right now, is that I needed to allow myself to break apart.
Now I had made a good start at re-evaluating my life before that on an intellectual level. But then grieving took me to the emotional and the soul level. And for the first time in my life, I did what one of my teachers describes as a complete melting down. Like a caterpillar does inside of a cocoon and turns into that goo.
When I've processed it a little bit more I'll talk to you about that melting down process. And how powerful it is. And how it transformed me. But for now. I'll just say that I became clearer than I ever had been about how I want to serve people.
And take care of myself while I do it.
I believe there are many valuable ways to help people with [00:14:00] a chronic illness. And what I want to do is help people with a chronic illness, keep their ambitions and their independence in life. In this new season of the podcast, I'm doing that by talking to people with a chronic illness who have gone after their big goals. These are the people that I wish I had model the way to success when I was starting out.
And I'm inspired every single time. I talk to one of my guests.
I started this podcast for two reasons. First. I'm a mindset junkie. I love how we can take even the most serious and scary of subjects. And look at them just a little bit differently. To create a huge shift. And it's not just about thoughts. I love talking about emotions. And the mind, body connection and processing what happens to us? And yes. I love talking about energy.
I love seeing how all of these things shape, who we are and how we can get [00:15:00] through. Even the toughest of circumstances.
And I love teaching it to people. Especially people with chronic illness. To help them get out of their heads and on their unique path to success, whatever it looks like to them.
The second reason that I started this podcast. I was, I wanted to create a place where people with a chronic illness can speak about their success. Really show it off and talk about how they did it. I really want to highlight these stories because I think hearing from people about how they really do it is the biggest way we can motivate and inspire ourselves.
To go for that next big dream, whatever it is for you. Hearing about others like us. Achieving what they've always wanted provides away for us to believe in our own abilities as well.
Hearing about others that are just like us achieving what they've always wanted, provides a way for us to believe in our own abilities as well. Season one was [00:16:00] all about how to create your own health mindset. Season two is talking directly with all the people who have done it themselves. Hearing about their own mindsets and the different ways they all came to reach their goals.
I'm so excited for you to listen. I've fallen in love with these stories. And I think you will too. I'm so glad that you're here. Please enjoy season two. Of the Live Your Life, Not Your Diagnosis podcast.
And if you love what you hear, please subscribe, follow, leave a review on apple or wherever you're listening to right now. Reviews and subscribes and followers really do help the show reach new listeners. Thank you so much for joining me and I hope you enjoy.

About Live Your Life, Not Your Diagnosis

Live Your Life, Not Your Diagnosis podcast

Hear inspiring discussions with people living with chronic illness. These people went after their passions and big goals -even when everyone told them they couldn’t. Listen to stories of resilience and gratitude in the face of uncertainty.

I’m your host, Andrea W. Hanson, Author, Motivational Speaker, and Autoimmune Rebel living with multiple sclerosis. You’ll not only fall in love with these guests, but you’ll soak up positive mindset tips and ideas to find your own unique path to success.

Follow in your favorite app for new episodes every Monday:
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