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Guest blog ‘I spent the previous year genuinely fretting about the looming ‘big 40’, completely oblivious to what was to come’

MSer Nicky Hartigan reveals why she decided to take on her own My MS MarathonN Hartigan 1.jpg

When I heard about the MS-UK marathon challenge I jumped at the chance and signed up to run a mile a day for 26 days. For a lot of people running a mile is pretty easy, but that is not the case for me. I’ve never been a natural runner, I don’t like running (in fact I used to hate running) and I never thought I’d be the kind of person to get a run in between the school drop off and starting work.  But then I also never thought I’d stop loving Morrissey or get multiple sclerosis (MS) - turns out life really is full of surprises!

When I was diagnosed with MS last year at the age of 39 I didn’t entertain the idea that it would change my life but I knew instinctively it was a call to action - to live better and without fear. I laugh now looking back because I spent the previous year genuinely fretting about the looming ‘big 40’, completely oblivious to what was to come. I suppose in a lot of ways MS has freed me - I no longer care that I’m a slow runner, that I’m 40, what I look like in running leggings or that I’m being lapped in the park by an old lady who is stopping to pick up her dog’s poo along the way (true story!). Now I run because I can because it makes me fitter and reminds me to look after MS. I don’t see MS as my enemy, I’m not a warrior, I’m not fighting it - I’m making space for it. We are sharing our life in this body and we’re going to do our best together to make it a good one.

 

Of course, like everyone I have my moments when I wonder what the future will bring, how my children will be affected and if the MS will get worse. Luckily, I have the privilege of being a clinical psychologist for 16 years and have learnt from the best (every one of my clients) on how to face life’s challenges with courage, wisdom and composure. It is my professional background that drew my attention to MS-UK when I saw their fundraising campaign to fund an online counselling service for those affected by MS. From my personal experience with MS and professional experience as a therapist, I know that emotional support through counselling and therapy can be truly life-changing and in some cases lifesaving. Unfortunately, MS healthcare services have a long way to go in making this available to everyone who needs it when they need it and MS-UK is doing wonderful work addressing this problem. MS-UK is an incredible charity powered by inspirational individuals and I am proudto be fundraising for them.