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Charlottetown woman with MS completes Camino de Santiago pilgrimage

Despite having multiple sclerosis, Charlottetown's Julianne Kalam has just completed the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage.

'I'm capable of much more than I thought I was,' says Julianne Kalam

Julianne Kalam of Charlottetown in a selfie she took on the Camino Frances. (Julianne Kalam)

A Charlottetown woman with multiple sclerosis returns home Tuesday after the journey of a lifetime.

Julianne Kalam of Charlottetown has just completed the Camino Frances or "The French Way" — one of the most popular routes of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage.

The famous route is about 780 kilometres long and stretches from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

Kalam first heard about the hike 12 years ago, and after her diagnosis, she decided it was time to do it herself.

Kalam's pilgrimage covered 780 kilometres, including some mountainous stretches, from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. (Julianne Kalam)
"I didn't really know a lot about MS when I was diagnosed, so no one can really, even the doctors don't really give you any concrete answers," she said. "So being uncertain of what might happen in the next couple years or the next few years definitely encouraged me to do it."

Help from strangers

The trip was challenging at some points, Kalam said, especially when she got an infection and was sick for five days, but lots of strangers helped her along the way.

"It ended up being a really great experience because the two ladies that ran the place that I was sleeping became like my Spanish moms," she said. "They'd come up at nighttime and give me a hug and give a little kiss on the forehead, goodnight."

Kalam pictured at the start of her journey, back in October. (Julianne Kalam)
Kalam said she's still processing the many things she's learned along the trip, and hopes it will stay with her at home.

'I'm capable of much more than I thought I was'

"I definitely discovered that I'm capable of much more than I thought I was," she said. "So I think I gained a new confidence. And I came to a firm believe that we're never really given more than we can handle."

Kalam now hopes to incorporate the patience, kindness and tolerance she saw on her journey into her regular life.

With files from Island Morning

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