MS Aware­ness Week gets mes­sage out there

North Taranaki Midweek - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - CHRIS­TINE WALSH

Mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis, or MS, of­ten strikes peo­ple in the prime of their lives.

Such was the case for New Ply­mouth’s Jil­lian Smart who was di­ag­nosed at 25, but says in hind­sight she prob­a­bly had it since she was 16 years-of-age.

‘‘A lot of peo­ple out there don’t know what MS is and think it’s an old per­son’s dis­ease,’’ Smart said. ’’I didn’t re­ally know what it was, I just knew it was bad.’’

MS is an auto-im­mune dis­ease of the cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem and can be un­pre­dictable and pro­gres­sively dis­abling with a raft of symp­toms.

Over time Smart’s leg went numb, she had pins and nee­dles in her feet, her vi­sion de­te­ri­o­rated and de­vel­oped tremors in her hands. To­day she can walk, but uses an elec­tric wheel­chair for bet­ter mo­bil­ity.

MS Aware­ness Week and Street Ap­peal 2017, runs Au­gust 28 to Sun­day Septem­ber 3.

‘‘A lot of peo­ple don’t un­der­stand what MS is or how it af­fects peo­ple’s lives. MS Week is a time to get the mes­sage out there.’’ said Mul­ti­ple Scle­ro­sis Taranaki field worker Moira Pater­son.

A small group gath­ered for an af­ter­noon tea to dis­cuss with New Ply­mouth Labour can­di­date Cor­rie Had­dock is­sues af­fect­ing peo­ple di­ag­nosed with MS and their fam­i­lies.

Had­dock said it was important to have an in­sight about the needs of peo­ple in his elec­torate.

‘‘What I learnt to­day is there is a real need for more re­sourc­ing and sup­port­ing peo­ple with MS and they are not get­ting the sup­port that they need.’’

CHRIS­TINE WALSH/STUFF

Mul­ti­ple Scle­ro­sis Taranaki field worker Moira Pater­son, left, and

Jil­lian Smart, who was di­ag­nosed with MS when she was 25.

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