When were you diagnosed with MS?
I was diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS in June 2015. I knew something very serious was wrong because of the severity of my symptoms. The news came as a terrible shock; I could almost hear the foundations of my world cracking and crumbling. At the time, I had very little knowledge on the disease and thought the absolute worst.
I am a single mum working full time; my daughter had just turned 5 at the time of my diagnosis. I don’t have any family in the UK, but I had my best friend with me in the room when I heard the life-changing words. For me it was all doom and gloom. Saying the words “I have MS” out loud seemed alien and unreal.
How did you deal with your diagnosis?
That night I went straight on the internet researching what this meant. Could the neurologist have been wrong? What is the worst and best-case scenario? Can I take any control of it? The lure of denial was strong, enticing even; it was a way to escape my new reality. I fought it and found acceptance surprisingly quickly.
I spoke to my late father quite a lot that night (in my mind); I get my strength from him. “We” decided to go to war and win that night. The next step was figuring out who to talk to about this; that’s where the MS Trust came into my life.
I called the MS Trust the day after my diagnosis and told the person on the line that I felt like a fish out of water. She was so helpful, kind, and patient; I didn’t feel rushed. She put me in touch with my MS nurse.
Why did you want to support the MS Trust’s work?
I need the MS Trust to be able to continue doing what they have done for me and so many others. They need to be able to keep up with research, train nurses, send out as much information as they do, and have trained support staff to be on the other end of the line for people like me.
How have you adapted to life with MS?
My life has changed immensely, mostly dietary and exercise changes. I now eat very little saturated fat, no dairy, lots of fruit and vegetables, no processed foods, very little sugar and I get plenty of exercise. I feel healthier than I did before my diagnosis. Outside of my prescribed medication, I look at my food as my medicine. I also take a host of vitamin supplements which I didn’t do before.
I started modern dancing again which I hadn’t done in almost 20 years. I started in September and will be in a show next March, which is a huge accomplishment. I guess I am trying to prove to myself that I haven’t lost something with this diagnosis. At least not yet. What I lost, I got most of back and now I am seeing what else I can do.
My memory is terrible, and stress is more difficult to handle but I am finding ways to cope with that. For example, I write things down as soon as they come to mind.
What was it like taking part in a tandem skydive? Were you nervous?
I was more excited than nervous. I was a bit nervous as I didn’t know how my body would react to the jump, but I read about other MSers that have jumped and their working limbs still worked after their jumps. I took great comfort in that. I always wanted to fly and I knew that my father’s spirit was with me the whole time. The best part was the thrill of freefalling above the clouds cloaked by gorgeous blue sky.
What was your experience of fundraising like?
I was taken aback by the amount of support I had. People were genuinely interested in the cause and so supportive and generous; I was deeply moved.
What would you say to someone else with MS who was thinking about taking on a challenge like this?
This is your chance to challenge yourself in a big way and push your limits outside of the MS confines. Don’t limit yourself because you think you can’t or you shouldn’t. If the neurologist gives the approval, then nothing is stopping you. Live life to the fullest and accept any challenge that makes you look twice. Take the step. Seize the moment and support MS Trust whilst you are at it.