31 Days of MS: See the positive, stay strong, and never give up

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by BioNews Staff |

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An photo illustration for 31 Days of MS, where people share their stories of life with this disease.
A woman wears an orange T-shirt for the MS Society's MS Walk over a long-sleeve white shirt. She has a medal with an orange ribbon around her neck and is wearing a cross necklace. Her hair is tied back in a low bun, and she has black and orange face paint on one cheek. She's looking to her right and laughing while standing outside. An orange canopy and a grassy field are visible behind her.

Photo courtesy of Derlene McPhail

Day 7 of 31

This is Derlene McPhail’s story:

Before my multiple sclerosis (MS) journey began, I worked for 15 years as a healthcare support worker for patients living with MS. The first time I heard the words multiple sclerosis, I had no idea what it was or how it affected patients.

In 2020, I began experiencing neck pain and was diagnosed with a spinal lesion with no known cause. Fast forward to 2022, I was studying as a first-year nursing student, had just returned from a holiday, and was preparing to start a nursing placement. Over the course of a few days, I began to lose sensation in my legs and torso until eventually I lost all sensation from my chest down.

I spent the next two weeks going through several tests until it was confirmed on Feb. 14 that I had been diagnosed with MS. For me, this didn’t come as a big shock. I knew I fit the criteria.

I chose to accept my diagnosis fairly quickly, as I knew this was the only way I’d be able to face it more positively. I decided that it wouldn’t hold me back. I completed an online placement while I was undergoing investigation, and within a week of my diagnosis, I started another nursing placement. I have continued my studies and am now in my second year of nursing.

Having knowledge about MS allowed me to accept it more. I know stress is a common factor, so managing it is a priority in my life. For now, I’ve chosen to use a disease-modifying therapy (DMT), and so far it’s gone well. However, I don’t think it’s a magic fix — I believe it takes more than just a DMT. I also live a life of sobriety, try to maintain a healthy diet, and regularly keep fit.

I took part in my first 10K MS walk, which gave me motivation knowing I could help others in the same position as me. I am far from perfecting my health and well-being, but I continue to make small changes every day. No matter how tough life gets, there’s always the option to see the positive, stay strong, and never give up.

Multiple Sclerosis News Today’s 31 Days of MS campaign will publish one story per day for MS Awareness Month in March. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more stories like this, using the hashtag #31DaysofMS, or read the full series.