It has many faces.
In fact, in New Zealand, it has 4000 faces, and 2.8 million worldwide.
Did you know that Multiple Sclerosis is the leading cause of non-traumatic disability among young and middle-aged adults in many developed countries? In New Zealand the average age of diagnosis is 38. Usually diagnosed between 20 and 50, it’s a prime time for careers, families and building a future.
You might look at a person with Multiple Sclerosis and think “But you look fine. You don’t look sick.” But what you don’t see are the daily struggles, the overwhelming fatigue making daily tasks impossible, the chronic pain, the blurred vision, the spasticity or inability to lift your own hand.
One of the most difficult parts of Multiple Sclerosis is living with the unseen symptoms.
Everyone’s story and experience of MS is different. This Awareness Week, we wish to share with you real stories from New Zealanders who have been impacted by this disease. These people have chosen to share their MS stories wishing to increase the knowledge and understanding of MS and to inspire others to live well with MS. Click on the images below to read about their own, very personal MS journey or see the collection here.
We would like to also introduce you to 18 brave New Zealanders who are proud to be a regional Face of MS showing how Multiple Sclerosis impacts them, the lives of their families, the support that they receive from their MS Regional Society and why they need your help.
Please consider donating TODAY to your local MS Society, helping to provide on-going community-based support for your Face of MS, and others like them. Or support Multiple Sclerosis New Zealand advocating for changes to improve the lives of people with MS nationally.
“This disease is different for everyone but MS Auckland is always there for you regardless of your needs.” Rochelle
MS Bay of Plenty
“Although I feel the weight of my symptoms, I live a full and active life by taking control of my thoughts and emotions.” Joanne
MS & P Canterbury
“I feel reassured knowing I have access to a range of services. If any unexpected obstacles come my way, I know I have their support.” Annie
MS Central Districts
“The unknown is big and scary, so it has been vital to have a reliable source of information and advice.” Joshua
“I nervously attended a morning tea. They understood me and my symptoms. Now I know they’ve got my back!” Kevin
MS Hawkes Bay
“Receiving a diagnosis is traumatic. Discovering there is a Society dedicated to help, pulls you out of the darkness, to move forward with your life.” Iian
“Adjusting from an active life to one in a wheelchair has been difficult but MS Marlborough has enabled me to continue to contribute to my community.” David
“With Multiple Sclerosis, I experience issues with balance, speech, coordination and being slow at everything! I still like to try new things like tandem skydiving!” Wendy
“People say ” You don’t look sick, you look so normal” but what they don’t realise is many of my Multiple Sclerosis symptoms are unseen.” Donna
“I use my energy to implement strategies to live well with Multiple Sclerosis. Everyone has something they have to manage.” Bronwyn
“I experienced many scary and invisible symptoms like severe fatigue, loss of sensation in hands and numbness of my torso.” Katy
MS South Canterbury
“I have fatigue, numbness and trouble keeping my balance. To look at me, people find it hard to believe that I have Multiple Sclerosis.” Rachael
“Multiple Sclerosis won’t stop me living. I am faced with hurdles, some bigger than others, but that means I have to learn to jump higher.” Julia
“Fatigue, spasticity, limited mobility, and impaired dexterity are some of my Multiple Sclerosis symptoms, but it does not stop my passion for cycling.” Graham
“My main symptom of Multiple Sclerosis is fatigue. The guilt of not being able to do what I previously could, is very hard.” Shaun
“Using a wheelchair is frustrating. I feel like I can’t do the simple things in life.” Sue
“The unknown is big and scary, so it has been vital to have a reliable source of information and advice.” Nick
MS West Coast
“My goals may need tweaking to accomplish, but with the right support crew behind me, I can do it.” Rachel