Fighting MS helped turn this 28-year-old worrier into a warrior

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by BioNews Staff |

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Five photos showing individuals with multiple sclerosis, who are sharing their real-life stories during MS Awareness Month, are hung with clips on a string above the words 'MS Community Spotlight.'

Sarah Doherty is shown in a selfie. (Photos courtesy of Sarah Doherty)

Day 3 of 31

This is Sarah Doherty’s story:

I never in a million years expected to have to deal with a chronic health diagnosis at age 28. What started as the loss of vision in my right eye quickly resulted in a neurologist laying out my future in front of me seven months later.

A group of women hold a banner reading "finish line."

Doherty and friends hold a “FINISH LINE” banner after completing a 100km fundraising walk.

My knowledge of multiple sclerosis (MS) was nonexistent at this point, which made everything even more scary. Then, the lack of information provided by the National Health Service (NHS) led me to Google, which probably wasn’t the best idea: I had visions of walking sticks and wheelchairs and lifelong impairment, and I mourned the future I thought I once had.

After realizing this was something in life I had no control over, I knew I needed to look at things from a different perspective — not just for me, but for my family, too. No one likes a pity party, after all. For a confessed control freak, this felt surprisingly liberating.

From there on out, I decided to use my diagnosis positively. Now, I help educate others and raise money for all of the amazing MS charities out there that assist people in my situation.

Let’s face it, multiple sclerosis does not get the same exposure as other illnesses. I want to change that, knowing it’s a life-changing disease.

A woman, giving a thumbs up, stands near an open parachute, dressed in skydiving gear.

Doherty, in skydiving gear, gives a thumbs up before boarding the plane for her jump.

Over the last few years, I’ve taken part in several fundraising activities to help raise awareness and money for charity. I’ve done a sponsored skydive in aid of the MS Trust and also completed a 100km walk over 48 hours to raise funds for the MS Society.

I fully believe that a positive mental attitude alongside a stubbornness to get through anything will stand one in good stead when faced with a difficult medical diagnosis.

Unfortunately for me, I recently learned that my MS has progressed and my treatment options are now very limited. I’ve already been treated with one of the more potent therapies available.

My next step is to have hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, or a stem cell transplant, and I’m in limbo now waiting to see if the NHS will accept me for this treatment.

One thing is for certain though: On this journey full of rollercoasters, I luckily am an adrenaline junkie who is happy to fight anything that comes her way.

I no longer worry about the future. Up to now, I’ve survived all of my bad days.

In recognition of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month in March, the MS Community Spotlight campaign features a series of stories highlighting the real-life experiences of people affected by MS, written in their own words. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest for more stories like this, using the hashtag #MSSpotlight, or read the full series.