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Family prepares to cycle to Paris for MS Trust

Jack and his team mates

Jack Graves will be cycling from London to Paris in July along with his parents, two family friends and 37 other MS Trust riders.

Here Jack tells us how his mum's MS diagnosis has inspired his family to get on their bikes.

Nine years ago, just after her 40th birthday, my mum was diagnosed with MS (multiple sclerosis). This was devastating news for my mum and for me and my family. I was 13 at the time and didn't really understand how much of an impact this disease could have. 

My first memory after the diagnosis was when my mum came back from hospital. I remember that we walked the dog and then came back and played Monopoly, trying to act like nothing had happened and that everything was fine. She wanted us to stay positive and continue as normal.

Keeping active

My mum is a very active person. She loves going to the gym, going for walks, bike rides, you name it. The worst thing she could have done was to stop being active and let the MS beat her. My mum is a real fighter and her natural instinct was to push herself even more. She carried on going to the gym, carried on running, she wouldn't say no.

As the years went on Mum found it harder and more painful to run so for the sake of her health she had to stop, but that didn't set her back. She took up extra classes at the gym; keeping active is a big part of my mum’s life and it has helped her battle her MS. 

In 2013 Mum and her gym friend decided to take part in the Moon Walk, a 26.6 mile trek around London in aid of another charity close to my mum’s heart. A lot of training, injuries and setbacks along the way didn't stop her from finishing the walk. It was a massive achievement and we were all very proud of her. 

Relapses and treatments

In May of 2012 her MS symptoms started getting worse, having several relapses which stopped her from being as active as she wanted. In 2013 she was prescribed a drug to manage the symptoms which she had to self-inject every week. Unfortunately she still had a number of relapses whilst taking the drug.

In March 2015 she was fortunate to qualify for a new treatment that could slow (or possibly stop) MS disease activity and in some cases improve symptoms. This involved a week in hospital where she was given the drug via an infusion over 4 hours every day. The drug was originally developed to treat certain types of leukaemia and lymphoma. There are a number of dangerous side effects and Mum has to have monthly blood tests to monitor this.

So far the new treatment seems to be having a positive effect and it enables her to continue her active lifestyle.

Our cycle challenge

On behalf of the MS Trust, five of us (me, my mum, dad and two good friends) intend to complete a 300 mile cycle ride over four days from London to Paris in July 2016. This is a great chance for us to show our support by raising funds for a fantastic charity which means so much to me and my family.