Art­work for mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis

Central Leader - - News - By Jo­ce­lyn Rein


Smile. Strength. Laugh.

Th­ese are the words mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis suf­ferer Claire Read wants to show the world.

They ap­pear in her art­work on dis­play at the Art for MS ex­hi­bi­tion at the Aotea Cen­tre this month.

The ex­hi­bi­tion fol­lows MS Aware­ness Week, which be­gan on Mon­day and runs un­til Sun­day, and the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s an­nual ap­peal to­day and to­mor­row.

The ex­hi­bi­tion will show­case art by peo­ple with MS and those af­fected by it.

MS is an in­cur­able au­toim­mune dis­ease af­fect­ing the cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem.

Claire hopes it will draw at­ten­tion to the dis­ease which af­fects al­most 3000 New Zealan­ders.

She says paint­ing the let­ters was very tricky be­cause her hands get tired but she was de­ter­mined to en­ter af­ter miss­ing out last year.

“It didn’t mat­ter how hard it was, I was def­i­nitely go­ing to en­ter some­thing.”

She now plans to cre­ate an art­work for Auck­land Uni­ver­sity, where she is study­ing for a post-grad­u­ate diploma in psy­chol­ogy.

She gave up full-time work as an ac­coun­tant last year and is loving her re­turn to study.

“I de­cided to take some time out to see what pushed my but­tons.”

Claire was di­ag­nosed with MS in 1999, just be­fore she turned 40, and now has the secondary pro­gres­sive form of the dis­ease.

She says

ex­pe­ri­enc­ing symp­toms of un­usual sen­sa­tions in her limbs for the first time was “re­ally quite scary”.

She lives with her two daugh­ters aged 10 and 20 and says they have been her main sup­port as she has pro­gressed from us­ing a walk- ing cane, to a walker and now usu­ally a wheel­chair.

There are no funded treat­ments avail­able apart from diet and ex­er­cise choices and Claire has been ve­gan for two years.

It is hard­est on her youngest daugh­ter, she says, be­cause it is dif­fi­cult to get in­volved with school ac­tiv­i­ties.

“To be there is quite a dif­fi­cult task be­cause it usu­ally means go­ing to school in a wheel­chair.”

She says small things like hav­ing lunch with friends are chal­leng­ing and re­quire a lot of thought and plan­ning.

Through the Auck­land MS So­ci­ety Claire has met friends but she says it’s easy to get iso­lated be­cause “it is just such a mis­sion to go any­where”.

MS So­ci­ety mar­ket­ing and fundrais­ing co­or­di­na­tor Ni­cola Gar­land says many peo­ple don’t re­alise the early age MS strikes peo­ple.

Many peo­ple de­velop the dis­ease in their late 20s and early 30s.

“It’s not about a 50 year-old in a wheel­chair, it’s about peo­ple cut down in the prime of their lives,” she says.

She says an­other com­mon mis­un­der­stand­ing is how dif­fer­ently peo­ple can be af­fected by the dis­ease, with some pro­gress­ing fast and oth­ers much slower over many years.

“Ev­ery sin­gle per­son’s MS jour­ney will be to­tally dif­fer­ent.”

She says the aim of the aware­ness week is to show that MS isn’t all bad news.

“Peo­ple can still live a re­ward­ing life.”

Do­na­tions can be made to street col­lec­tors or by call­ing 0900 YES 2 MS.


Chang­ing per­cep­tions: Claire Read hopes to raise aware­ness about mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis through her art­work.

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