MS Ireland Awareness Campaign

24th May 2013

Multiple sclerosis (MS) [2] is a chronic, unpredictable disease of the central nervous system (the brain, optic nerves, and spinal cord). It is thought to be an autoimmune disorder, which means the immune system incorrectly attacks the person's healthy tissue.

MS can cause blurred vision, loss of balance, poor coordination, slurred speech, tremors, numbness, extreme fatigue, problems with memory and concentration, paralysis, and blindness and more.

Around 8,000 people and their family members live with MS across Ireland [1]. Around 100,000 people in the UK have MS [3]. Approximately 400,000 Americans have MS, and every week about 200 people are diagnosed. And world-wide, MS affects about 2.1 million people [2].

I was unfortunate to experience the effects and consequences of this dreadful disease first-hand when my mother passed away due to End Stage MS. Her MS started in 1973, the year of my birth, when she was presented with optic neuritis and transverse myelitis. She continued to have eyes and spinal cord relapses in 1975, 1976, 1979, 1982 and 1991. When I accompanied her in the 1980’s for a MRI, I was excited at first to see the tunnel-shaped scanner device, but then became horrified when my mum entered it. I was far too young to understand the consequences MS would have on her at the time.

The disease was quiescent for almost 10 years but a relapse occurred in 2000. Since then until her passing, she had multiple relapses every year. It was painful for me to see my mum, who was independent in her mobility and activities of daily living suddenly become wheel-chair bound and requiring around-the-clock home care in her personal, family and social activities of daily life.

I started my mum on beta-interferon therapy since 2002, which was very costly at the time, and that seemed to help reduce the number of relapses for a few years. However, she later developed spastic paraparesis and sensory ataxia on her upper and lower limbs, pressure sores, a series of strokes and nosocomial pneumonia. She was ultimately admitted into hospital whereupon her condition deteriorated and was put on ventilator due to respiratory failure. She had only just turned 60 years old at the time.

I have climbed many mountains in life, but they are all nothing in comparison to the mountain that my mother faced through her long battle with MS. As a first-hand witness to my mum’s sufferings and in memory of her passing, I have decided to assist MS Ireland[4] in their mission to help the MS community in Ireland. I aim to do so going forward - to the best of my ability - through the giving of my time in events, increasing the public’s awareness of MS through blog posts, voluntary self-donations and also online donations via this website.

And as such, I would like to announce that 10% of profits from online book[5] and photography[6] sales and courses[7] from this website will be donated to MS Ireland. Donations will be backdated to sales from January 2012. Sincere thanks in advance for your support.