31 Days of MS: Sailing helped me rediscover myself after diagnosis

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by BioNews Staff |

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The 31 Days of MS 2023 banner.
A man with white hair wears a red sweatshirt and stands on board a sailboat.

Photo courtesy of Robert Munns

Day 17 of 31

This is Robert Munns’ story:

Hello! My name is Robert and I have multiple sclerosis (MS). I was diagnosed in 2008 and spent the next few years not really committing to life. I sometimes say that MS used to dim the lights on my possibilities. The fear from not knowing how I’d be affected by MS really did cripple me, and I rarely lived in the moment.

I was first introduced to Oceans of Hope in 2014 by Mikkel Anthonisen. He was planning on sailing around the world with a crew of people with MS. In late 2014, I was accepted onto the voyage and invited to join the boat between the Galapagos Islands and Tahiti. I didn’t realize that crossing the Pacific was an ambition of mine!

On board the boat, I spent four weeks with people who were worse off than me, which drastically altered my perspective on my disease.

We were encouraged to write blogs, and my first post was an apology to myself, my family, and my loved ones. I apologized for not being there and for not being the great person I was before I was diagnosed. That time on the boat made me realize I hadn’t been living properly because of my diagnosis and my fear, which I subsequently realized a lot of us with MS have. Being on a boat with good people was a gift.

It took me some time to realize that I wanted to give that gift to others. That’s why I started the Oceans of Hope challenge, with the blessing of Mikkel, where we took other people with MS on different sailing journeys, with the goal of recapturing our identities and overcoming challenges together.

As a result, we formed the charity Oceans of Hope UK and have since taken over 1,000 people on their own odysseys.

I feel so incredibly privileged to still be working with Oceans of Hope UK and creating interesting and challenging sailing opportunities for people in a fun, inclusive, and safe environment. I invite everyone with MS to visit our website at www.oceansofhope.co.uk and perhaps even consider taking up the challenge yourself.

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.