MS-UK fundraiser of month Guy Cooper fights back against his own MS by fundraising for others affected by MS.
In May 2011, I was just three weeks into a new job. One afternoon, I suddenly lost vision in my left eye. After a couple of days, of my vision getting worse, I went to my GP. He immediately referred me to the Royal Gwent Hospital, Wales. After nine months of tests and examinations I was sent for an MRI scan.
When the results came in, I was informed that I was being transferred to my local neurology team. At my first appointment with neurology, I was shown my MRI Scan and told I had multiple sclerosis (MS).
My MS has progressed slowly, but I have had some minor relapses and struggled with fatigue. I've also had a slow, but increasing loss of sensation in my left leg and arm.
To combat the fatigue I took up cross-country walking because I am surrounded by mountains where I live in Wales and it occurred to me I had never explored most of them - I wanted to put that right. I spent many happy hours in the areas overlooking Caerphilly and Cardiff, learning about local history.
In summer 2018, I suffered my worse relapse to date, which lasted eight weeks and took even longer to recover from. It hit me hard and really knocked my confidence. For the first time since I had been diagnosed, I felt like I was losing the fight.
I decided to fight back from the relapse and I needed something to work towards. So I set myself the challenge to attempt my most ambitious hike to date. After receiving encouragement and support from my friends when I mentioned trying to do something, I then shared my plans with my work colleague Stina. I was braced to be told I was being stupid, but not only did she back me, but she also offered to help me plan the route and train for the attempt. My line manager Tim, who is also a keen walker, heard about the idea and also offered to help.
A few days after Christmas 2018, I was doing a Google search for MS support when I stumbled across the MS-UK website. I was impressed by how friendly it seemed, with natural photos and names of real people there to help. I liked the services they were offering on their website and decided I wanted this charity to benefit from my adventure, so I set up a JustGiving page. I spoke with the fundraising team because I wanted to make sure the money I raised would go towards sustaining the services that MS-UK provides for people with MS. I realise that not everyone is as fortunate as me. My symptoms haven't been life changing, I've had excellent medical support from my GP and MS team at The Royal Gwent, and I have an amazing group of family and friends who have stood by me.
So, on 16 March 2019 at around 8am, I will be setting off with support from Tim and Stina, to cover Bedwas, Machen, Rudry and Caerphilly Mountains in one day. The route will be just over 14.5 miles and we hope to complete it in under eight hours – wish me luck!
If you are inspired by Guy’s story and would like to support his fundraising effort, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/guy-cooper2 to donate. Thank you!
If you’ve been inspired to take on your own challenge, contact Lucy on 01206 226500, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.