Dave, diagnosed with MS when he was 19, talks about why he decided to join MS Walk – and on adapting when things didn’t go according to plan.
Earlier this year I made the decision to take part in a charity event for MS, the 2019 MS Walk in London.
It was a big step for me. Even though I’ve organised and taken part in many different charity events, I’ve never done an event for MS before. This time the focus would be on me.
Fundraising as part of my personal fight against MS
I’m not embarrassed to have MS. I have an Instagram account with thousands of friends with MS around the world, and I’ve posted about my struggles, fears and insecurities. This grew into a blog.
But when it came to fundraising, asking the people around me to part with their hard earned cash in support of my personal fight against MS had been too much for my brain to process.
But doing my blog and Instagram has given me the confidence and voice to talk about MS, and take the next step of signing up for MS Walk.
Our family team did lots of training
I was not going to be alone. My wonderful wife Laura and our amazing little bundles of joy signed up to do it with me.
In preparation, over countless weekends and after school, we went on lots of walks, bike rides and scooter rides all around our lovely village.
I was feeling good and mentally ready for it. The girls were ready (although unaware as to why we were doing it) and Laura was, well, she was just going to wing it!
Winter bugs put a stop to our plans
The event was fast approaching and I was feeling both anxious and excited. But as the weather cooled one of our girls got a cold and the other tonsillitis.
As you probably know, when your children get ill, you can almost guarantee getting ill too. I did everything in my power not to catch the girl’s bugs but I ended up with a chest infection. It took two rounds of antibiotics and two rounds of steroids for my asthma to clear.
Struggling to keep up with my usual responsibilities, I had to cancel taking part in the walk. It was a hard decision to make because of how important it was to me to do it. And besides the actual walk I was very much looking forward to meeting some of the people who support me and inspire me on Instagram.
Doing my own MS Walk
But I’ve found a way to still walk for MS! Inspired by someone I saw on Instagram, I’m doing my own walk – a million steps for MS by 2020.
Once I had the idea, I quickly made a poster and set up a Just Giving page and my walk was born.
My Fitbit was charged, my trainers laced, my mood elevated and I was ready to go.
MS and walking in the cold weather
With the season now being wintery, it’s difficult some days getting the target steps in. I struggle a lot more with pain and fatigue in the cold. The days when fatigue sets in and the cold outside is gripping my muscles are particularly difficult, but what I’ve found is that it’s all about balance.
This is what all of us MS’ers have to figure out. Some days I don’t achieve my daily target and that's okay, because on the good days I achieve over my target. It’s like the yin and yang.
So far I’m on track to complete the million steps by January 1 2020.
My event might not raise a huge sum of money, but it has been an important, personal step for me. And I hope it will lead to many more charity events.
What would stopping MS mean to me?
Stopping MS would mean waking up feeling good and refreshed for the first time 10 years. It would mean my girls would get an even better version of me. It would I can enjoy this precious time with them growing, without having to put up with pain or push through the fatigue.
It would mean not worrying about the future as much and whether I will be able to walk my girls down the aisle if and when then get married. Stopping MS would give back the piece of me MS unforgivably stole.
Will you join Team Stop MS?
We’re the closest we’ve ever been to treatments for everyone. We can see a future where no-one needs to worry about their MS getting worse. To get us there we’ve launched our biggest fundraising appeal yet and we need your help.