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Sandy Diaz Haley: “Life is what you make of it”

I’ve always lived by the motto that “life is what you make of it.” I got an MS diagnosis, I dealt with it and said, “I’m going to be the best damn thing that ever happened to MS.” I was laid off and I said, “I’m going to create the community and network I need […]

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I’ve always lived by the motto that “life is what you make of it.” I got an MS diagnosis, I dealt with it and said, “I’m going to be the best damn thing that ever happened to MS.” I was laid off and I said, “I’m going to create the community and network I need to get through this right now.” You can only control how you react to what life throws at you, so take that and run with it. We’re only given one life, live it, fight through it and enjoy it to the fullest, always! Is there really any other way to live?


I had the pleasure of interviewing Sandy Diaz Haley. Sandy is the VP of Digital & Social Media at Mr. Cooper.

Sandy is also a mother and MS Advocate.


Thank you for joining us Sandy. Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

I was born in Lima, Peru and my family moved to the U.S. when I was six years old. I’ve always been a healthy and active person. I’ve worked in marketing and public relations and spent the first 10 years of my career traveling internationally for work.

Do you feel comfortable sharing with us the story of how you were diagnosed with multiple sclerosis? What did you do to now let that “stop you”?

In 2014 at the age of 33, I was diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS. This came after years of suffering from severe fatigue and numbness in my feet and legs, which I blamed on a demanding career with so much travel. In preparation for my wedding in 2014, I was working out with a trainer and my pinky and ring finger on my left hand became clawed, as a result of a pinched nerve in my forearm. I blamed that on my new workout routine and after surgery to relieve the pinched nerve, I began physical therapy and complained to my physical therapist about the growing numbness throughout my body. He blamed it on a sciatic nerve issue, and I continued onto my destination wedding in Mexico. The day of my wedding, the numbness spread through my entire body, making it hard to walk or stand for long periods of time. The fatigue I suffered had me sleeping through most of my honeymoon. Shortly thereafter, I received an MS diagnosis after an MRI and a spinal tap. Within six months, I was married, found out I had MS, we bought a house and…I was pregnant. A lot of life came at me all at once. It was overwhelming and scary, but I knew in the end, I’d be okay. After my daughter was born, I had a serious relapse but after working with my doctors, I found my way back to strong. First it was by finding a treatment that best fit my disease, and then finally by getting back to being the active, strong and fit person I’d been before through exercise.

Can you tell our readers about the accomplishments you have been able to make despite your chronic illness?

Three words come to mind. Family, community and advocacy. I am a working mom, with an energetic toddler, who keeps me on my toes and another daughter on the way now. After experiencing a job loss in 2017, I founded a growing network of career-minded women, which has now grown to almost 2,000 members who support and empower one another. That networking group ultimately led me to the job I have now as the Vice President of Digital & Social Media at Mr. Cooper, one of the largest home loan servicers in the country. I also try to share my MS story with anyone who will listen, because I believe in advocating for the things that are important to me and that creating awareness about this disease is the key to finding a cure.

What advice would you give to other people who have MS?

Finding your way back to normalcy, whatever that may be, won’t happen overnight. It is a process and it’s scary, frustrating and overwhelming. You have to give yourself the time to process what is happening, then find solutions that will work best for you. No two people with MS have the same symptoms and the same goes for processing this diagnosis. Give yourself some grace and don’t be afraid to ask for support. There are so many people and resources out there for all of us — like the National MS Society — it’s a matter of wanting the help and being open to receiving it.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

My husband played a major role in helping me deal with my diagnosis. Knowing I was not alone in this really helped me deal with what was ahead. Right after my diagnosis, my husband started a Walk MS team in my honor, called ‘#HaleyEverAfter’, which was our wedding hashtag. My parents and extended family and friends were and continue to be incredible. Even today, when they have to remind me to slow down because I’m taking on too much. I need those people around to ground me and remind me, oh yeah, I’m not superwoman, I can’t do it all.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I share my MS story with anyone who will listen. I am proud of what I’ve accomplished despite what MS continues to put in front of me, and I want to be that example for others to prove that MS doesn’t make me weak; in fact it makes me stronger and more resilient than anyone who isn’t living with this disease.

Can you share “5 things I wish people understood about MS or knew about people who live with an invisible illness” and why.

  1. No matter how strong and healthy I may appear, sometimes it’s really, really hard for me to get out of bed.
  2. When I say “I’m tired,” you really don’t know what that feels like.
  3. Sometimes I sound much smarter in my head than the words that are coming out of my mouth.
  4. I swear, I’m not lazy.
  5. Yes, I really DO need this handicap badge for my car!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?

I’ve always lived by the motto that “life is what you make of it.” I got an MS diagnosis, I dealt with it and said, “I’m going to be the best damn thing that ever happened to MS.” I was laid off and I said, “I’m going to create the community and network I need to get through this right now.” You can only control how you react to what life throws at you, so take that and run with it. We’re only given one life, live it, fight through it and enjoy it to the fullest, always! Is there really any other way to live?

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂

I was fortunate enough to see Oprah in Dallas during her 2020 vision tour earlier this year. I’d been through a rough patch dealing with a difficult pregnancy and other issues, and that day Oprah recharged me. It was as if she was speaking directly to me (because that is the superpower Oprah possesses). She reminded me of all the things I already knew but I’d lost sight of and man, did I need to be reminded! Sometimes the universe has a way of gifting you what you need just in time. Thank you, Oprah!

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