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Grace Under Fire

Written by lafocus on . Posted in 2013, LA Focus Issue 09, Top Stories

EO to a busy Los Angeles marketing firm and wife to a California Councilmember, Del Richardson-Price can be considered no less than a contemporary female powerhouse.

Aside from running her own company, the Wichita, Kansas native cares for numerous children and grandchildren, and presents a dignified and stable presence at her husband’s side to Councilman Curren Price who oversees the 9th District in Los Angeles, an important undertaking for both the city of L.A. and the Price family themselves.

The founder of Del Richardson & Associates (DRA) is the picture perfect example of the working woman who does it all. So in 2007, when she faced a diagnosis of MS, an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system through the brain and spinal chord, she didn’t even stop to accept it as truth.

“I didn’t believe it,” she says. “I went two years and ignored it.”

The beginning of Richardson-price’s MS is similar to many of its early sufferers—the symptoms were difficult to place and not consistent.

“I had my first big episode in 2004, but didn’t realize what it was.” It took three years for an official diagnosis to be made, but that wasn’t the beginning of her treatment.

She describes a meeting with her doctor, who spent months asking her to come in and let him run tests.

“He said, ‘this is getting serious, at least come see me,’ so I went to see him, and he told me ‘you gotta start taking medicine. This is gonna be really serious.’ And I was like ‘hah.’”

A military child who traveled the world, Richardson-Price attended military boarding school, where she was taught strict self-discipline—an environment that not only helped build her into career savant with an impenetrable work ethic, but also added to her no-nonsense perspective when it came to dealing with her disease.

“When you’re around a lot of dignitaries, and a house mother that was very very strict—protocol was the big word of the house.”

So she continued to keep her illness a secret, refusing to let it affect any aspect of her life—especially her family’s.

Thanks to a concerned daughter, however, who found out about her conversation with her doctor, Richard-Price’s secret didn’t last very long.

“She started getting all of her friends to email me, text me, ‘take your medicine!’ She just started this campaign about me taking medicine, and it just got to this point where it was driving me crazy, so I said ‘ok I’ll take the medicine.’

While the prodding was initially a nuisance, looking back on it, Del knows it was for the best.

“She made me deal with the reality of my situation, and how important it was to get on medication early. You can’t cure MS, but you can stabilize it. So she launched a campaign—and it was effective… and annoying,” she laughs.

Richardson-Price went on to take her medication in 2009, but her lowest point wasn’t the diagnosis—it was the medicine itself.

“The day the nurse came out to show me how to inject myself, I had my best friend and my daughter and my husband and someone else here, and it was just extremely hard, facing that.

“Because there I was, I had to face reality—I really do have MS. And you have to take medicine.

“And the medicine was horrible. It gave me horrible side effects, convulsions, hot, hot extreme, extreme fevers, and extreme chills.”

Her symptoms led to many hours, sometimes days and weeks, spent resting. And the symptoms could come out of nowhere.

“Like the worst flu symptoms you could imagine, with thrashing—and you’re in bed for three days. And the vomiting, it was just awful.”

But Richardson-Price’s family got her through the harder episodes. She cites their persistent care and love as what carried her throughout the worst of her symptoms.

“My grandson’s always so special, just seeing him, and my husband, and knowing that I had to be there for him, and my family.”

Richardson-Price is currently on a new, less invasive drug. But even with her medication sorted out, MS still presents day-to-day struggles.

“A month ago I had a bad relapse, and it was in the middle of the swearing in ceremony for the mayor, and I literally had to have a friend take me home and pack me in ice, and I was in bed for three weeks.”

But her nature—the true continence of a purposeful and strong-willed CEO—is of one who isn’t ready to surrender any time soon. That includes continuing her work load and daily supervision of her company.

“I just continue to have meetings around my bedside,” she says. “I couldn’t walk but people came to me.”

Through it all, the love of her family conquers every malady.

“My husband’s so wonderful. He’s so loving and so passionate. He is just the best husband. He doesn’t know how to cook or do any of those things, but he’s just very comforting and very concerned, and calling every hour.”

Her children have also learned to not only continue to expect the same love and care from their mother, but to also give it back to her.

“All the kids pitch in to make sure that there’s food and the house stays clean, and then if I need to go somewhere. Then, guarding, making sure not too many people have access to me during that period.”

Her biggest piece of advice to both busy women and MS suffers is simple.        “Learn to say no. Get a lot of rest. And create balance and time for yourself.”

As a woman with a lot to do, and quite a bit to hold her back, if she lets it, Richardson-Price has balanced the management of her illness, her career, and her family with grace and persistence.

And most of that came from simply giving herself a much-deserved break.

“I think finally I’ve learned the art of saying ‘not now’. And prioritizing. I think that my husband is my first priority and making  sure that our house is taken care of, being a homemaker and a good wife is very important to me. And that comes second to being the best CEO that I can be.”  three weeks.”

But her nature—the true continence of a purposeful and strong-willed CEO—is of one who isn’t ready to surrender any time soon. That includes continuing her work load and daily supervision of her company.

“I just continue to have meetings around my bedside,” she says. “I couldn’t walk but people came to me.”

Through it all, the love of her family conquers every malady.

“My husband’s so wonderful. He’s so loving and so passionate. He is just the best husband. He doesn’t know how to cook or do any of those things, but he’s just very comforting and very concerned, and calling every hour.”

Her children have also learned to not only continue to expect the same love and care from their mother, but to also give it back to her.

“All the kids pitch in to make sure that there’s food and the house stays clean, and then if I need to go somewhere. Then, guarding, making sure not too many people have access to me while during that period. “

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