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'I'm really blessed' | Mom celebrates 50th birthday after living with ALS for 20+ years

She was worried she wouldn't see her four children finish grade school. Instead, she's been there for every milestone in their lives.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — For the Meystrik family, milestones are everything. In 1998, Carianne Meystrik was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease, a nervous system disease that weakens muscles and impacts physical function. 

She was told she had two to five years left to live.

"I never thought that I'd make it to 30, much less 50," Carianne told 10News. "I'm really blessed."

She was worried she wouldn't see her four children finish grade school. Instead, she's been there for every milestone in their lives.

"I didn't think I would see her at my wedding or my college graduation," her daughter Rebecca Beebe said. 

Credit: Submitted
Carianne was able to attend her daughter's wedding. She didn't think she'd see her finish grade school.

But Carianne was there. More than two decades after being diagnosed with ALS, she's defying the odds.

"This family doesn't let anything stop them. They keep going," Mason Beebe said. "They find a way to do anything they want to."

For Carianne and her husband Chris Meystrik, that means traveling the country and inspiring others along the way.

"She's inspired a lot of people in this world and she continues to inspire all of us," Chris said. "She's my inspiration for sure. I love her dearly."

Carianne's oldest son Jacob remembers when she was first diagnosed. He said her mobility declined rapidly, but has plateaued for the last 15 years or so.

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Credit: Submitted

"I'm still getting to make memories and see her running around and being crazy inspirational to hundreds of people across Knoxville," Jacob said. "So [her 50th] is a very, very exciting day."

Carianne had her youngest son, Jonathan, after she was diagnosed with ALS.

"Not many people can give birth while having a muscular degenerative disease, but my mom is the strongest woman in the world and is still kicking which is crazy," Jonathan said. "It's super awesome that I've been able to have my mom by my side for all of those years."

Carianne and her family said each of those years is a reminder of how much they are all loved.

"Mom’s one of my best friends so it's really sweet to just celebrate her," her daughter Graceanne said. "It's another big milestone for us as a family."

Chris and Carianne are thankful for every milestone they have together. 

Milestones they never thought would be possible.

"We hope it can touch someone or inspire them to live life to the fullest," Chris said. "You only get one go at this life."