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Coffee Break Episode 19

Coffee Break episode 19: with Joia Lewis

Welcome to Living Well with MS Coffee Break #19, where we are pleased to welcome Joia Lewis as our guest!  

Our Coffee Break series is your chance to get to know members of our diverse OMS community. In each episode, you’ll join Geoff Allix for an intimate chat with a different member of our global community. Our guests will share their personal stories and talk about their challenges and victories, large and small. We hope you find common cause and a source of inspiration from the stories of these very special people. 

As always, your comments and suggestions are always welcome by emailing [email protected]. We hope you enjoy this episode’s conversation with Joia, beaming to you straight from the Estoril in Portugal. 



Joia Lewis was born in Portugal to missionary parents and lived there for 10 years until the family returned to the United States. In college she studied violin at the Boston Conservatory and Russian at the Pushkin Institute in Moscow, before spending a year traveling throughout Europe, Africa, India and the Middle East.

Seeking to continue studies in both the humanities and sciences, she completed graduate work at Indiana University for a PhD in the Philosophy of Science. 30 years of teaching scientific reasoning, logic and medical ethics also include raising her daughter in California and working for a software company there and in Minnesota.

She was diagnosed with PPMS in 2009 and taught 5 more years until full medical retirement and disability in 2014. Her symptoms were fortunately stable enough to allow for moving back to her birthplace in Portugal in 2018, where she currently lives near Lisbon and works on her many writing projects. 


  • Joia, welcome to Living Well with MS Coffee Break. We’re so pleased to have you on our program. The purpose of this series is to better get to know some of the diverse members of our community from around the world, and we couldn’t have a more representative example than you. You’ve had quite an international and multicultural life, which has taken you full circle back to Portugal. Can you tell us a bit about this whirlwind trajectory? 

  • When were you diagnosed with PPMS? Can you provide some context on that? When were you diagnosed and how did you initially deal with it? 

  • You have had a rich career as an academic, serving as a professor of philosophy of science. And now you’re an essaying, blogger and occasional editor. How did your academic focus at all inform your approach to dealing with the realities of experiencing MS? 

  • At which point did you come across the OMS program? How was that experience for you? Why did you decide to start following it? 

  • What are some of the challenges you’ve faced at first in adopting the OMS program? How did you overcome them? 

  • When did you first start to see any kind of positive indicators in following OMS guidelines? What were these? 

  • As I understand it, you have some thoughts to share with our community about ways in which one can deal with the anxieties surrounding experiencing MS symptoms. As this is a critical area for anyone with MS, do you have any personal lessons or tips to share?  

  • You’ve been a valuable member of the OMS community. As an example, you’re the ambassador of the OMS Circle currently covering all of Portugal. What’s that experience like? 

  • Shifting gears, literally, I’m curious to understand how you work exercise and meditation into your daily regimen. What kind of exercise do you do regularly, and how do you feel it impacts you physically and emotionally? 

  • If you tap into your experience with MS generally and OMS specifically for a nugget of wisdom that would help people ease into and better adopt the OMS program, what would that advice be? 

Joia’s Links: 

Coming up on our next episode: 

Tune in on July 21, 2021 for the third installment and special summer edition of Ask Jack, our special 5-part series where certified OMS foodie and professional chef Jack McNulty answers cooking- and food-related questions from you, our OMS community. This episode is all about picnics and grilling, so have a listen and you’ll be sure your summer meals are both tasty and OMS-friendly. And remember, you can submit your questions for future Ask Jack episodes by emailing them to [email protected]

Don’t miss out: 

Subscribe to this podcast and never miss an episode. You can catch any episode of Living Well with MS here or on your favorite podcast listening app. Don’t be shy – if you like the program, leave a review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you tune into the show. And feel free to share your comments and suggestions by emailing [email protected]