Everyone expects young people to be fit and healthy. That’s what I thought too, until the summer 2022, when I was just 21 years old, fresh out of university, and working full-time as an occupational therapist. I never expected to be undergoing health investigations, let alone be diagnosed with MS in 2023. Multiple Sclerosis wasn’t part of my plan for adulthood, but here I am. In February of this year, the neurologist confirmed that it was MS causing my symptoms. It was a shock to the system, but thankfully, since then, I have been asymptomatic.
I have personal experience with MS; my great aunt lived with it, and I’ve also encountered a few people with it while working in the health service. MS can affect everyone so differently, and there is currently no cure. It was surprising to find out that Northern Ireland has one of the highest rates of MS, but what can we do? The answer is to make a difference, no matter how small.
My great-aunt who had MS was an inspiration. She didn’t let the disease stop her from living life to the fullest, even though she was confined to her bed. She always said that there weren’t enough hours in the day, and I think that can be a real example to the rest of us. As an occupational therapist, I can work directly with people who have MS and try my best to support them to engage with life.
With MS week coming up (24-30th April), I wanted to do something to raise some funds. I had originally intended to do a daily 5-mile walk throughout May, which would equal the distance of 155 miles, but then I thought, why not climb down a 120ft building as well? It might be more exciting and raise more funds.
I was blown away by the response I received. In just 24 hours, £915 was raised, and the support so far has been completely unbelievable. The money is being raised for the MS Society, which not only funds future clinical trials and research into treatments to prevent the progression of MS, but it also provides support and services to people with MS to help them live their lives.
Social media has played a significant role in the majority of donations, with friends and family sharing the fundraising with others. The support from the people in my small village has left me speechless. The number of people who have donated or pledged to donate is so encouraging.
I had set an initial target of £250, which was a lot of money, to begin with. But we quickly met and surpassed that goal. In less than 48 hours, we have raised over £1000, including cash donations. I hope that this fundraising effort not only provides the necessary financial support but also raises awareness about MS and encourages others to fundraise for causes close to their hearts.
I have been completely blown away by everyone’s kindness so far! Even anonymous donations have come in, which is even more encouraging because it shows that people who don’t even know me care enough to donate.
You have to see the positive in everything. Don’t be afraid to show your emotions. We all need to remember that there has to be rain before a rainbow. I believe your attitude can really affect not only how you are feeling in yourself but also is an example to others around you. We can all use our own situation to benefit others.