Natasha's Story

Inspirational mum taking on charity challenge, sets example for people with Multiple Sclerosis during lockdown

04 Jul 2019

The diagnosis that led to an incredible weight loss journey

For years I’d been getting numbness in my legs, but by the age of 29 things had got so bad I couldn’t walk much at all.

I was admitted to hospital where tests revealed I had secondary progressive multiple sclerosis, a lifelong condition that affects the brain and spinal cord, causing problems with vision, arm or leg movement, sensation of balance, or a combination of these.

While symptoms differ from person to person, I was severely affected. Visiting me in hospital, Mum took me for a push around the grounds with the boys, and she lost control of my wheelchair on a slope.

I came to a stop in a bush, but I now weighed over 21st and they couldn’t get me back to the path. Eventually, a passer-by helped, but I could tell my son, Deon, was worried. “Mum, if you’re going to be in a wheelchair, how will we do things if we can’t push you?” he said

It was an 11-year-old’s innocent ­question, but it cut right to the heart of the matter. I was determined to live a full life despite my MS, and I was sure I couldn’t do that unless I lost weight. Not long after I got home, a Slimming World leaflet dropped through my door and I decided to join.

Going on my motorised scooter was nerve-racking as I knew it would make me stand out, so I sat in a corner, hoping I wouldn’t be noticed. “Don’t worry, if I can lose weight then you certainly can,” said a friendly voice.

I saw that the woman talking to me had a walking frame. Leaning in close, she gave me a lovely smile. Doreen had lost around five stone since she’d joined.

From that day, I stopped relying on the jars of pasta and curry sauce that had been our household staples and began to plan our meals.

Through hard work and my family coming together, I lost 11 stone!

When lockdown was announced however, Natasha’s hard work was suddenly thrown into jeopardy.

I have been sent a letter by the government to stay home for 12 weeks. This is because I am on a chemotherapy drug that suppresses my immune system, this is a disease modifying drug for my MS. It has been hard and we are expecting the lockdown to last a lot longer for me.

I miss my family and friends but I am now working from home on an online Slimming World service and continuing the job that I adore as a consultant to support my members to be able to continue their weight loss journeys.

We are all being extremely cautious and supporting each other during these very unsettling times we are united together as a family and have been making the most of our time together.

 

The family decided to do something to keep them active and help others

Taking part in the May 50K has been a fantastic feel-good factor exercise for us all. Marc himself had a rare cancer in his thigh and he is pushing himself hard to cycle 200km. The boys are doing 50km of running each. We are a family that believes in trying to create awareness for families like ours that live with MS in their lives, so by taking part in things like this it is something really positive that we can all do together.

There are over 130,000 Briton's living with MS and we need your help to leave MS where it belongs, behind us. Research is the key to changing the future of MS and we’ve accepted The May 50K challenge to be an active part of the change.

I want to give people hope that after a life-changing diagnosis, life can be fuller and richer than you ever imagined.

I’ve brought a sense of meaning to my life – and that means whatever happens in the future, I’ll have made a difference.

Thanks to the support of Natasha and 13,000 people worldwide who are taking part in the May 50K, the MS International Federation has been able to carry on funding MS Research whilst leading a COVID-19 and MS global data sharing initiative, which shares important information on how the virus affects people with MS. Time is of the essence right now, so only by sharing information across the world can get the answers faster and save lives.

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