In this guest blog Jessica Armstrong shares her reasons for running the Virgin Money London Marathon this year in aid of MS-UK...
My name is Jessica. I was born and raised in a small town just outside of Toronto Canada. My partner and I moved to London in August 2016 with the plan to work in another country and travel Europe. When I first moved here I never had any plan to run a marathon. To be honest, I’d never in my life even thought of trying to attempt to run a marathon; the idea seemed impossible to me! However, my career as a Certified Athletic Therapist led me to working in a clinic that specialises in treating runners, many of whom run the London Marathon. I had no idea the hype around the London Marathon. I figured it was just another marathon. Little did I know the next year and a half of my life would be changed because of it.
When I was about 10 years old I remember my parents sitting my sister and I down at the kitchen table. They told us that my Dad had been diagnosed with something called multiple sclerosis. Being 10 years old all I really wanted to know was, what would happen to my Dad? My parents simple answer was, “we aren’t really sure.” I’m sure they tried to explain more, but those are the two bits that I remember most: thinking what is this condition that I could barely pronounce and feeling like it wasn’t that big of a deal because Dad looked normal. Fast-forward 18 years and my fathers’ initial diagnosis of relapse remitting is now secondary progressive. He now faces daily challenges completing tasks that most of us take for granted.
January 2017 I began treating many runners who were taking part in the London Marathon. Some were elite level runners and others were embarking on a journey completely new to them. While their efforts in training were amazing, it was their reasons for running that led me to applying for the marathon. I found it admirable the change they were trying to achieve with their fundraising and I decided I wanted to make a difference too!
It has been the support from friends, family and the Canadian MS Society that have helped to make each challenge my Dad has had to face a bit easier. After learning about what MS-UK does for those living with MS and their families I knew I wanted to run for them!
I’ve set myself a goal of £2,500. I am excited to be hosting my very first pub quiz as my main fundraising event alongside a couple smaller events leading up to the day. A “Guess My Time” poster has proven to be a fun way to get my clients involved in my journey to helping raise funds for MS-UK.
These events along with the tremendous support from family and friends will hopefully help me to reach my goals and help MS-UK continue to make a difference for those living with MS and their families in the UK.
December may feel like it was ages ago, but you may still have a MS-UK Christmas collection box at home and I wanted to let you know how you could send the money in to us before we close the appeal at the end of February!
Ways to donate
Please make your cheque payable to MS-UK and send it to us in an envelope. Just write FREEPOST MS-UK on the front, you don’t need a stamp. Please remember to include your name and address with your donation so we are able to acknowledge your wonderful support for MS-UK.
You can put a donation straight into our bank account if you want to. Please put in your name and state that the money is from a Christmas collection box, then email email@example.com once a payment has been made.
Our bank details are:
Account Name: MS-UK
Account Number: 41623508
Sort Code: 40-23-10
You can make a donation online using our website. Please state that the money is from a Christmas collection box.
Thank you so much! Every penny raised from our Christmas collection boxes helps us support even more people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS).
Jenny Poulter, Events Fundraiser
Issue 107 of New Pathways is out now, with the latest news, features and exclusive interviews from some of leading MS experts. So I thought I’d give you a roundup of what’s not to be missed.
In this edition I interviewed Jane Felstead, star of Channel 4 reality show Made in Chelsea. Jane had been experiencing symptoms for around two decades until recently when she finally demanded an answer from her doctor. Read her story and why she feels it’s so important to fight for a diagnosis on page 24.
MS can throw up a variety of symptoms on a daily basis, but how can general life events such as the menopause impact the condition? Turn to page 12 to find out more.
If you’re looking for a complementary therapy and haven’t tried reflexology, Lee Anthony Taylor, a worldwide authority and specialist in reflexology for MS discusses the benefits on page 14.
It’s a question we at MS-UK are asked a lot – ‘what is medical retirement?’ On page 42 our resident HR columnist Rebecca Armstrong explains what it is and how to make it work for you.
Plus, with all this talk about gut health in the news we provide an update on the latest development and how it affects you. Turn to page 18 for ‘The truth about gut health’.
New Pathways magazine is a paper magazine, but is also available in a variety of accessible formats including an audio CD, PDF and plain text – we even have an app (search My MS-UK), so if you would like to subscribe click here.
I hope you enjoy reading!
Over the next couple of weeks, people across the country will hear from Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 about whether or not they got a ballot place. I can just imagine the thousands of lucky people who will get a 'yes' and start planning their big day out in the capital.
But as over 80,000 people applied for a ballot place, there will also be some disappointment…but do not worry! You can still be part of the action as a member of the MS-UK team!
The Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 starts in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park then follows closed roads through the city and Surrey before finishing on The Mall. On Sunday 29 July we’ll be heading to London to cheer on #TeamPurple, and that could include you!
Not only will you take on 100 miles, but you’ll be helping us support even more people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS). When someone calls the MS-UK Helpline to ask a question about managing bladder and bowel problems, your efforts mean we can pick up the phone. When someone reads an article about a complementary therapy in New Pathways that could help with fatigue, you could be the reason the magazine lands on their doormat.
Now, it must be time for the song…
Jenny Poulter, Events Fundraiser
Deciding to volunteer for the first time can be a scary thing. You see a post on Facebook, or a friend mentions an event to you, and you wonder if you’d enjoy it. Sometimes you just shrug it off and say ‘maybe next year’ to yourself, but sometimes you take a chance. If you’re thinking now is the time to take that chance, I wanted to share with you what your experience may be like if you join the MS-UK cheering squad.
There is something very special about volunteering at a national event…you realise we’re all in it together. Every race marshal, every charity, every runner, every cyclist, every volunteer – together we’re making it possible for the event to happen.
At MS-UK, we love supporting #TeamPurple, whether it’s at the RideLondon or the British 10k.
As you arrive in London in the morning, there is a sense of anticipation in the air.
The pavements may still be being swept and the barriers are being put along the side of the roads, but as you make your way to Trafalgar Square the buzz is already beginning. The four lions greet you and you know today will be a good day.
You exchange smiles with other volunteers, decked out in the all the colours of the rainbow to support their chosen charities, and as you approach the MS-UK cheering point you’re being greeted with a warm smile and asked if you’d like tea or coffee. As you pull a MS-UK t-shirt over your head you feel part of something truly awesome.
Whispers travel from cheering point to cheering point, and before you know it you are straining to see the first runners or cyclists as you hear that they have crossed the starting line. They keep coming, more and more, the roar of the crowd swells and you can’t help but join in, lifting your voice to shout encouragements at everyone who passes you by.
‘Come on Lilly!’
‘You’re rocking it Ahmed!’
‘Keep going David, you can do it!’
‘Just keep swimming – I mean running!’
‘You got this Katie!’
It doesn’t matter why they are taking part, whether it’s for charity, in memory of a loved one, for themselves to prove they can do it. You lock eyes with them, you raise your rapper clapper into the air and you cheer with all your might.
Of course there is a special kind of feeling when you spot someone in a purple MS-UK top, and you can sense the team around you glowing with pride and excitement.
At the end of the day, as you help take down the sail flags and gulp down water after all that cheering, you look around and realise you have not only made a difference, you have made friends for life. You ask me if you can just ‘hang on’ to the MS-UK t-shirt in case you ever think of volunteering again. I wave goodbye as you head to the nearest tube station or bus stop, but even as you get on board I know you won’t be able to help nodding to people as you spot medals and dirty trainers and charity t-shirts dotted everywhere. Everyone is tired. Everyone is sweaty. And everyone is smiling.
This is what a day volunteering with MS-UK as part of our cheer squad looks like. It’s hard work, it’s amazing fun, and you won’t be going it alone. Whether you are taking your first chance or have been coming along for years now, we’re in it together.