Mark and Brenda: Living their best life with MS

I was a 34-year-old loader for Ansett at Tullamarine Airport and I was working very long shifts, often 16 hours a day. My wife Brenda had noticed that I was often fatigued and had a bit of a limp, but we just put my symptoms down to working hard.

I went to see my GP about the limp and he referred me to a podiatrist. He gave me a set of orthotics, but they didn’t help the situation. Then my GP sent me to a neurologist, and after a lumbar puncture I received some shocking news: I have MS.

“We were young parents,” said Brenda. “We had our three very young children at the time. All I could think of was that he was the breadwinner, we had no idea what this would mean for us.

We reached out to MS Limited for support.

We were able to access the annual family camp with our kids. It really resonated how many people are out there who are probably isolated, and they just don’t have access to things. So we became peer support volunteers and MS ambassadors,” said Brenda.

Living with MS has been a constant challenge. I had been a former elite sportsman, competitive swimmer, surfer, footballer and State League Water Polo player, so the rapid decline in my mobility and energy levels were quite distressing for me. I was forced to retire at 37 and now I rely on a wheelchair and the assistance of carers on a day-to-day basis.

To put it into context, most things below my neck don’t work anymore, but I’ve still got my brain. Brenda’s been amazing, despite everything that’s happened to me she just says “I fell in love with your brain and it’s still there. You’re still you.”

Today we’re the proud parents to three beautiful children and four grand-children. We look to the future and try to do things that make it easier for the whole family to live.

With support from MS Limited I’ve learnt to manage my stress and negative thoughts.

They managed to calm down my over-active brain and helped me believe it will be OK - now you’ve got this diagnosis, you find a way to move forward with it.

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