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Guest blog: 'I feel extremely lucky and proud to be able to run the London Marathon for my aunt...'

Posted on: April 23 2019

Image of Kate, MS-UK runner, with quoteThis Sunday Kate Mitchell will be taking on the Virgin Money London Marathon - that's 26.2 miles of running - and every step of the way she'll be inspired by her Aunt, Karen. Read why she's taking on this challenge in this guest blog...

'I was inspired to run for MS-UK by my Aunt Karen who was diagnosed with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) in 2012. Despite how much of a change her diagnosis has brought to her life and the daily challenges it now presents to her, I find myself in awe with how she hasn’t let it hold her back. I was drawn to MS-UK in particular due to the great services they offer to those affected, such as the helpline, counselling service and wellness centre facility. Services like these were so valuable and essential to helping my aunt, so raising money to ensure they are provided to others who need them means a lot.

'The main challenge I faced when I found out I had a charity place last June was that I had never run before and it didn’t come very naturally to me. My main support came through joining a local running group, which has really helped me through the winter training runs and longer runs recently.

Image of raffle prize'To fundraise for MS-UK I utilised my job as a Makeup Artist in order to hold a luxury beauty raffle. I was very lucky to be gifted items after asking various colleagues for contributions to the prizes. I managed to gather together enough items for three large prizes and decided to sell tickets for £5 each. I posted about the raffle on social media, as well as my local running group’s Facebook page. I sold 109 tickets and raised a total of £545. After the success and popularity of the first raffle I’m looking to hold a second one!

'Make sure to put yourself out there, whether it be on social media or in your work place. I’ve posted regular updates of my training onto Facebook and Instagram to let people know about my progression and to let them know about why I’m running for MS-UK. Also not being afraid to reach out to local businesses or friends to see if they would be willing to donate items as prizes, if you decide to do a raffle. I was really overwhelmed by people’s generosity, so it’s always worth asking!

'I feel extremely lucky and proud to be able to run the London Marathon for my aunt and to be able to raise money for MS-UK. I’ve recently completed my longest training run (20 miles), which I never could have imagined myself doing! Knowing I’m running for such a great cause has really helped to motivate and keep me going with my training, and although I’m nervous, I can’t wait for start-line of the marathon!'

Visit Kate's JustGiving fundraising page

MS Awareness Week 2019 is nearly here...

Posted on: April 15 2019

Hello,Cover image of MS-UK Choices Exercise booklet

Next week will mark MS Awareness Week 2019. This year we’re very excited to be working alongside the MS Trust and the National MS Therapy Centres to raise awareness of the benefits of exercise.

We have developed a free booklet all about exercise which includes some seated exercises to help you get started. We hope you find this useful and it includes first-hand quotes from other people who have been in your position - people who can truly understand and empathise with your feelings about exercise. 

We hope you enjoy the booklet and don't forget to get involved next week on social media using the hashtag #MSAW2019.

Best wishes,

The MS-UK Helpline team

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Guest blog: Gogglebox’s Scott talks trains, tests and tablets...

Posted on: April 15 2019

In this guest blog Scott McCormick talks about his journey for blood tests in London, and how we really wishes he’d stopped at a chemist...Photo of Scott on way home after blood test on the train

Another instalment as I am taken by the train to the hallowed turf that is Hammersmith Hospital. This began with an early start at 4.45am. I know, a clock should only see this once a day. Teeth were brushed, the shower was jumped in, the beard was conditioned to an inch of its life, as it has gone really dry and coarse of late. It is feeling soft once again, albeit the purple has faded somewhat. I'll probably colour it again, but will definitely do so before the Chemo in May. Mostly so the dust pan gets to look good as it is swept up. 

I am now sat on the train thinking about the need to get home in good time later today, to take the prescribed pills and the magic jab juice. I have been doing all this much closer to lunch time anyway, so I have another 6 hours, give or take before it might affect my current time scales.

As far as the side effects go, I do consider myself lucky as I am taking anti sick pills, with no sickness noted. I must say I have only been taking twice a day as opposed to the instructed three times as advised. If I had the slightest inkling of feeling sick, then I would certainly be taking them as instructed. I was told about the joint aches and pains, at the beginning too. Again this gas been kind too, don't get me wrong, if I am out pottering about town, as I was yesterday treating myself to some new jeans and a shirt. (Pandas breed more frequently than I buy new clothes by the way). 

Today I am feeling aches in my left hip, my lower back and my left eye again. I assume the hip and back are from the drugs, as I was informed would be the case, by Naghma, the well informed Nurse at Hammersmith, but the left eye is blind anyway, so as long as is isn't too bad, I'll not worry about it. If it was my good right eye, then it would have my full attention and I'd pop in to hospital about it. 

Peterborough hospital eye clinic have always been pretty good at squeezing me in at short notice when needed. I try not to bother them unless I am getting genuinely worried about my right eye. Either way, all the aches and pains are dealt with using paracetamol.

Well, that was close. The silence on the train woke me up...phew! God knows where I might have ended up.

Once awake, and back on my stumbley clumsy feet, I took the usual walk to the Victoria line down stairs on the far side of Kings Cross station, then get off at Oxford Circus, to get on the Central line, looking for White City. From there I get on either the No 72, or the 272 bus towards Hammersmith Hospital. All was so very smooth today in my getting here. I will say though, that I really do need to get some paracetamol. My lower back doesn't half ache. Maybe a combination of the walking a fair bit over the last few days, and my being 4 days in to the stem cell generation, and the achy bones are to be expected.

From speaking to the Nursing staff here, I am now in the prime time for the aches to be really biting down. As the day is slowly moving on, yes, I can feel those aches. Do I sound like I am whinging yet? 

My bloods have been taken by Nurse Harry and they have been sent off, as I sit here wondering where I can get those paracetamol tablets, on my way home.
Ok, so I fell asleep as the bloods were sent off, and was told they'd be ready after lunch, and with the time at 10.30 now, off I trot to central London for some nice food and to kill some time. I do pass a chemist, but meh! It'll be reet. 

I eventually find myself in Selfridges food hall trying to eat ramen broth, but yes my right hand is still rubbish, so I am forced to eat the long stringy noodle goodness with chopsticks using my left hand. Actually I did well, and got away with it. Now back to Hammersmith, by now I am really flagging and my back is aching a lot more than I gave it credit for. It is, every now and then, a quiet groan-worthy amount of ache. I really regret not getting some paracetamol to scoff. 

Eventually I get back to Hammersmith, to be told, all my bloods are exactly where they should be, and to come back on Monday for the big stem cell removal. So I say my thank yous to everyone and make my way home, thinking I knew a sly pocket full of paracetamol wouldn't go a miss right now.

I am on the train thinking, if the aches were anything to worry about, I would have bought some. I do see the aching bones as the Body telling me it is busy generating squillions of big fat juicy stem cells for me. You see, it might be super rubbish at running and tying my shoe laces at the moment, but it can spit out stem cells to order when it needs to. Thank you Body, you ain't that bad after all. Thank you X.

Want more information about multiple sclerosis (MS) or HSCT?

Our helpline is here to listen and offer you all the information and support you need to make your own decisions. Call us free on 0800 783 0518, email info@ms-uk.org, or live web chat with us today.

 

Planning for a healthier and happier future...

Posted on: March 21 2019

Hi everyone,

Today we have launched a new video all about our plans for the next three years. At MS-UK, we want to be truly community-led and we have developed our next strategy with this in mind.

Way back in February 2018 the whole charity agreed that we wanted to involve people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS) in a meaningful way. We were really keen to make sure we didn't just tick boxes, we wanted people affected by MS to share their insights and experiences with us and help us develop a way forward that makes a difference where it's needed most.

We asked the MS community 'what is the biggest difference we could make for you today?' And you answered...through attending focus groups, joining our Virtual Insight Panel, completing surveys and sending emails, you let us know what matters to you.

So, what are our priorities for the next three years? Watch or listen to our film today to find out!

You can also read our Strategic Plan for more information. 

I am very excited about planning for a healthier and happier future, a future where we can improve understanding of MS and provide the support that is needed most. Thank you so much for all of your feedback over the past year, you have made this possible,

Best wishes,

Amy

CEO

5 ways smoking can impact multiple sclerosis

Posted on: March 13 2019

 

Stop smoking image (low res).pngToday is National Non-Smoking Day. Have you ever wondered how smoking can affect multiple sclerosis (MS)? Do you need help quitting? Read on...

 

1          Developing MS

Research has shown that the risk of developing MS is three times greater in male smokers compared to male non-smokers, and for women the risk is one and a half times greater. It is thought that smoking may damage the cells which line blood vessels and these damaged cells cause the vessels to leak, allowing the toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke to damage the brain.

 

2          Disability progression

In a study researchers found current or former smokers with relapsing remitting MS were three times more likely to develop secondary progressive MS, another phase of MS marked by a steady increase in MS symptoms and disability, compared to non- or past smokers. However, quitting smoking is something that has been shown to slow disability progression.

 

3          Passive smoking in childhood

A study revealed that 62% of the people diagnosed with MS had been exposed to parental smoking as children, compared to 45% of people diagnosed with MS, whose parents did not smoke. The research also pointed to a time-related correlation between the increase in risk of developing MS as an adult and the length of time a child had been exposed to passive smoking.

 

4          It can impact treatment

For people taking the disease modifying drug Tysabri (natalizumab), there is evidence that smoking increases the risk of the body developing neutralising antibodies to the therapy, causing the drug to have little or no therapeutic effect. A study revealed the risk for developing neutralising antibodies was over twice as high in smokers, compared to non-smokers.

 

5          Smoking doesn’t relieve stress

Although stress is a well-known MS trigger and it can exacerbate symptoms, smoking does not have therapeutic benefits. Research has shown that people who smoke actually have higher stress levels than those who don’t.

 

Need help quitting?

If you need help quitting smoking visit:

Gogglebox’s Scott McCormick accepted for HSCT treatment in London

Posted on: March 06 2019

You may recognise Scott’s face, he is in fact the dad to the McCormick family on Channel 4’s popular series Gogglebox...

What you might not know is that Scott has been living with multiple sclerosis (MS) for 13 years and after recently seeing a worsening in his condition applied and has been accepted for Haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) treatment in London.

Scott has had a coveted career as an aircraft engineer in the Royal Air Force and was diagnosed with MS in 2006. With an MRI scan his neurologist identified that he has significant lesions to confirm he has MS.

He tried the disease modifying therapies approach and gave beta interferons a try, but they didn’t agree with him. So he decided to take the no-drug route for 13 years before his MS became more active in recent years.

Like many people’s HSCT stories, Scott didn’t know anything about the treatment until his wife found information online. He has since been accepted for HSCT treatment in London and wants to raise awareness and share his experience exclusively with MS-UK and its followers. This is the first of a number of vlogs Scott will be sharing with us, so please do follow his journey with us.

Scott thought it was important to express that he is no way an expert and MS affects everyone differently, but hopes that sharing his story will give everyone an idea of what’s involved in the process and what to expect. Please do share your thoughts and comments with Scott via our social media pages and his own @goggle_beard.

Want more information about HSCT?

Our helpline is here to listen and offer you all the information and support you need to make your own decisions. Call us free on 0800 783 0518, email info@ms-uk.org, or live web chat with us today.

Caution: Please be aware that some of the language used in this video may cause offence. 

Guest blog: MS is just a sign of the times...

Posted on: February 25 2019

In this guest blog Martin Baum, a writer, author and satirist, explores accessibility measures introduced at UK supermarkets based on his own experiences of living with multiple sclerosis (MS)...Photo of Martin, guest blogger

2016 and 2017 was a momentous time for supermarkets here in the UK; ASDA, Sainsburys, Tesco, Waitrose and Morrisons announced they had removed the stigma of people with invisible illnesses from being called out for looking ‘normal’ when using their stores.

In an act of moving with the times, when the big five supermarkets specifically addressed the issue of hidden disabilities by displaying ‘not every disability is visible’ signs in their stores, I was greatly heartened to hear about this act of awareness. 

And not a moment too soon. After all, from a personal perspective having to validate my MS to complete strangers has at times been humiliating, particularly whenever I’ve found a disabled parking space. 

While not exactly a burning bush moment, by raising an awareness on their premises it was a positive step against discrimination. But then again, was it really something to celebrate or was it nothing more than a misguided publicity stunt?

Despite the desperate need for a parking space hidden disability awareness sign, shamefully I later discovered it was only Sainsburys who have displayed it beneath the wheelchair logo in their parking bays. As for the others, their nod towards helping people only extends as far as their accessible toilets.

Without wishing to sound ungrateful I’m at a loss to understand why both needs were not given equal consideration but then again, I have nothing to be grateful for.  None of us do. Yet given all the free PR and advertising, the cynic in me questions what kind of tokenism was deemed more acceptable by supermarket focus groups. 

If ASDA, Tesco, Waitrose and Morrisons can put up signs in their store toilets raising awareness of 'hidden disabilities' that doesn’t extend to parking, they clearly have no idea what going shopping is like for some with MS, faced with fear of confrontation outside on the superstore concourse.

Never more has supermarket lip service been so opportunist. They should be shamed, not celebrated, for their penny-pinching attempt for basking in gold-plated publicity. I can only assume they chose to do this because of cost. And yet all is not lost. Redemption is at their fingertips.

On Amazon, it’s possible to buy ‘not all disabilities are visible stickers’ to give away free to customers. The cost to them is less than £2 notwithstanding discount for a bulk order. 

Every little helps, as they say.

Get in touch with our helpline for support...

If you would like any information about accessibility or parking, please email our helpline with your questions.

 

Happy holidays from MS-UK...

Posted on: December 21 2018

Hello,Photo of Amy Woolf, CEO at MS-UK

I just wanted to wish you, on behalf of myself and the whole team here at MS-UK, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

This year we have been proud to commemorate our 25th anniversary of supporting people affected by multiple sclerosis.

We have seen our newest service, MS-UK Counselling, grow rapidly as more and more people seek confidential counselling that is grounded in a knowledge of living life with MS.

Our helpline has answered thousands of enquiries and our Choices leaflets have been downloaded over 70,000 times from our website. We now have over 20 different titles, encompassing a wide range of topics, from diet and nutrition through to complementary therapies.

Our magazine, New Pathways, landed on doormats every other month, connecting thousands of people with the wider MS community. And our wellness centre, Josephs Court, has extended its range of complementary therapies and social activities to better support people affected by MS in our local community.

Next year, we will be launching our new strategy. Until then, thank you for your support in 2018. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Best wishes,

Amy

Amy Woolf, CEO

Our Christmas opening hours...

Posted on: December 14 2018

Hello,hours promo.png

Holidays are coming, so here's an update about our opening hours over the next few weeks...

Our office

The MS-UK office will be closed from 5pm on Friday 21 December until 9am on Wednesday 02 January 2019.

Josephs Court

Josephs Court, our Wellness Centre, will be open during these times:

  • Saturday 22 December 2018, 9am - 3pm
  • Thursday 27 December 2018, 10am - 2pm

Josephs Court will then reopen at 9am on Wednesday 02 January 2019.

From all of us at MS-UK, we wish you a very merry Christmas if you are celebrating and a happy New Year!

Managing fatigue

Posted on: November 28 2018

In this blog, our MS-UK Helpline take a look at fatigue...

Fatigue cover.png

Our Choices leaflets are available online

Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS) and it can often feel overwhelming during the cold and dark winter months. However, with the help of the MS community, we’ve gathered together a few tips and techniques that may help you through!  

Firstly, though it may seem counter-intuitive, moderate exercise has been shown to improve resistance to fatigue. Now, we are by no means suggesting that you run a marathon, but a small amount of regular walking, swimming, or yoga, among many other options, could make a positive difference in the longer term. For more information on exercise, please see our Choices leaflet.

Looking after your mental wellbeing is also important. Activities like meditation, mindfulness and relaxation, as well as just being aware of the need to factor in time for rest, are tips that the MS community have shared with us in relation to managing symptoms. This self-aware approach is particularly useful when it comes to fatigue because taking the time to plan activities and daily patterns, as well as breaking down tasks into manageable chunks, can really make things less daunting on a day-to-day basis.

It may seem like a bit of cliché, but we can hardly talk about the usefulness of exercise without also talking about healthy eating. It is well known that eating a balanced diet helps people to maintain good health and feel their best, while poor diet can lead to fatigue. This is no less true when it comes to MS. Supplements, including B12, Co-enzyme Q10, Vitamin D and Omega 3, can also contribute to reducing fatigue, though we suggest speaking to your GP or neurologist before taking anything new. For more information, please see our Choices leaflets on Diet and nutrition and Vitamin D.

Other therapies that some people with MS have found to be helpful include acupuncture, oxygen therapy, and Action Potential Simulation (APS) therapy. Oxygen therapy is widely used across the UK in the many MS therapy centres and those who regularly attend sessions have found that it can greatly improve fatigue levels. To find your nearest therapy centre, use our website.

You can read and download all of our Choices leaflets on our website

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