“Research saved my life. It’s that simple.”
Every moment, every sensation, every symptom that leads to an MS diagnosis is crucial. For Sarah, there’s one moment that stands out.
First, let’s rewind back to early September 2015. Sarah was on a trip around USA and experienced pins-and-needles like tingles in her feet. The tingles progressively spread up Sarah’s legs, arms and eventually most of her body – “it felt like my body was constantly reverberating.”
Approximately a week later, Sarah experienced what is commonly known as an ‘MS hug’, a feeling of pressure around the chest or abdomen. That coupled with intense lethargy, sent Sarah to see a GP who concluded it was likely a pinched nerve or magnesium deficiency.
Upon Sarah’s trip back home, her mother insisted she see another doctor to investigate these symptoms further, who then referred Sarah to a neurologist.
It was this appointment in mid-October that changed everything for Sarah. The actual contents of the appointment unfortunately provided Sarah with no answers, as the neurologist deemed an MRI unnecessary at this point.
However, the pivotal moment was as Sarah was about to leave when she bent down to pick up her bag and felt an electric shock down her spine.
“It was a symptom I now realised I had before the other symptoms, but I barely noticed it. That moment changed everything.”
Sarah mentioned this to the neurologist and shared “when I put my chin to my chest, I get this electric shock down my spine”. His whole face changed and said “Right, you’ve just earned yourself an MRI.”
By November 5th in 2015, Sarah was officially diagnosed with MS.
Sarah, now 32, is taking on the Kiss Goodbye to MS K’gari (previously known as Fraser Island) Trek in May 2022. Sarah is doing this as a “homage to all the people who fundraised before me and funded the research that led me to be on the medication that I’m on and has saved my life.”
When reflecting on her journey so far, Sarah knew very little about MS prior to her diagnosis, aside from the MS Readathon and her friend’s dad living with MS.
“The not knowing makes it more terrifying. To learn it often hits women my age, in the prime of their lives, seems more devastating. Why didn’t I know this?”
Sarah felt quite alone at the beginning, crying “pretty much every day for about 6 months. It’s a weird grief that no one really understood.”
She had three lesions on her brain and experienced limited symptoms, saying that her “battle was more mental than physical”, with one the biggest things being unable to find stories about people like her who had a rapid diagnosis and weren’t heavily impacted by their symptoms.
However, Sarah found that the best way to cope for both herself and her family, was to read as little as possible about other people’s experiences and take on her own MS journey.
“I had to relinquish control to my doctors and focus on the things that I could control like diet, exercise, sleep and stress, but most importantly, my attitude.”
Six years on, Sarah is incredibly open and comfortable with her story, and is happier and healthier than she has ever been! “I have a real sense of appreciation of all the things my body can do and the things I want it to do while it can.”
And one of those things is trekking 50km across K’gari for life-changing MS research! Sarah’s love for bushwalking and hiking mixed with her strong passion for MS research were the perfect catalysts for taking on the challenge.
“Research led to my treatment and will mean I get to live a relatively normal healthy life that, if I was diagnosed 10 years earlier, I never would have had that option. Research saved my life. It’s that simple.”
Sarah praises the early detection of her MS and research, stating that thanks to her medication, “I forget I have MS most days. And that is an outcome that never would have happened without MS research.”
So far, Sarah has raised a phenomenal $4,268 to power world-class MS research, and gives thanks to her incredibly supportive family and friends, who always show up for all her fundraising activities!
We can’t express our thanks enough to Sarah and her generous network for playing a huge part in our mission to Kiss Goodbye to MS once and for all.
We are so excited to see Sarah continue to shine and share her story, as one of her goals, aside from completing the Kiss Goodbye to MS K’gari Trek, is for “more people to know more about MS so that we can debunk a lot of the stereotypes about what people think it is.”
Sarah – thank you for openly sharing your story and being such a huge advocate for MS research. You are the definition of a star! 💞
If you want to join Sarah across K’gari and explore the diversity of the world heritage listed island – now is your chance! Due to COVID, the challenge has been rescheduled to 10-14 May 2022. Find out more:
For more information on how you can raise funds for life-changing MS research, please head to: http://www.kissgoodbyetoms.org or contact the Kiss Goodbye to MS team on 1300 785 717.