Meet Mark Elisha - diagnosed with MS at 24 years old.
Six years ago, Mark was having the time of his life. He was working full time, playing basketball and enjoying being out and about with friends.
And then Mark found out he had multiple sclerosis. He was just 24 years old.
“I had an image of what my future looked like and I didn’t like it, it was definitely frightening.”
“After about a year and a half of having MS, that’s when my walking (and strength) first got impacted. I started using a cane, and (that) quickly gave way to a walker and a wheelchair. Things moved very, very quickly.”
With no two cases alike, Mark who had been a healthy and active young man, quickly found his MS affecting his ability to walk and stand.
By around age 26, Mark had lost his mobility, his independence and was feeling very alone.
Mark recalls, “It felt for a long time that MS had taken over my life, had taken the reigns of my present and my future. Like I was living on behalf of the disease as opposed to myself. Everything was tailored around it and everything was touched by MS as well".
“You feel very isolated when you have MS, even in a crowd you can feel alone because you’re going through things, sitting there talking to people and you’ve got some numbness happening, or you’ve got some random symptoms going on that people can’t see."
MS is a largely invisible disease and for Mark, experiencing symptoms that nobody else could see was isolating.
Fortunately, Mark was directed to MS Peer Support, where he was able to connect with people who have a lived experience of MS and who could help him feel that he wasn’t alone in dealing with his MS.
“Suddenly I wasn’t alone and wasn’t facing these issues all by myself. It definitely gave me that perspective that ‘OK I can make the most of what I have available to me’. It’s really comforting to hear a voice on the other side of the line that you know is not going to judge you and you’re going to be able to relate on the conditions that you’re going through.”
MS services help connect people at all stages of living with MS and it was through MS Peer Support that Mark was able to find a new, positive perspective about his present and his future.
“It’s really important that we keep this program well-funded and running well. I’d hate to think that there’s people out there going through what I was going through, and I know there are, especially when you first get diagnosed with MS. It’s such a shock to the system."
By helping to connect people who know first-hand the challenges of living with the disease, MS Peer Support can fight fear with knowledge, despair with hope and isolation with friendship.
And, with the funds you raise through the MS Walk Run + Roll, this vital service will continue to be provided to those who need it most and will ensure that nobody has to face MS alone.
“Talking to someone with MS who can really give that insight into how they dealt with MS, that first-hand experience, is so important. We wouldn’t be able to continue without your donation and the help of you wonderful donors!”