Scott stands on the side of a hill, resting on a trekking pole. Behind him is a beautiful river.

Why I’m taking on an arctic trek to stop MS

In January 2020 Scott McPhillimy is going to take on the challenge of a lifetime – a 3 day arctic trek to raise money to stop MS

I was diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS in 2015, two months before my twenty seventh birthday.

It took a long time to finally get on a disease modifying therapy (DMT) that worked for me. While it hasn’t been plain sailing, I am now in a much better place than I was when I first diagnosed.

I think when you get the news that you have something like MS, time slows down. Looking back it hasn’t actually been that long since I diagnosed but it seems like a lifetime ago!

My motto is to challenge MS

That’s why I’m taking part in the trek, which has been organised by the MS Society in Scotland.

With a team of other fundraisers, I’ll be walking in the Arctic Circle for 3 days pulling pulks (small toboggans) laden with our gear.

I felt it was the challenge of a lifetime and when I saw the details of it I couldn’t say no!

I may need to work twice as hard as someone who doesn’t has MS, but I hope to show that it’s still possible to achieve goals – I might just need some help along the way.

Dragging tyres and climbing mountains

Scott stands on the side of a moutain, using trekking poles.

 

I’ve been training by walking, walking, and more walking. I have climbed a few Munros and I go to the gym 3 times a week. I also do the odd spin class.

For me it’s all about getting my legs as strong as possible. I aim to do some tyre training (dragging a tyre behind me on a beach) to get used to having to drag a weight over a long distance.

Finding ways to work around my limits

The toughest thing about training was discovering there are very real limits on how far I can walk unaided. My foot begins to drop after a mile and a half and everything I tried to fix it never worked. It was so frustrating that I couldn’t overcome this obstacle by myself.

But I’ve now got an ankle-foot orthosis (AFO), which has allowed me to walk further than I ever thought possible! I’ve gone from having to rest all the time after the mile and a half mark, to being to do 9 miles overnight. It’s a real bonus.

A giant six foot polar bear…

…is one of the ways I’ve been fundraising! A kind person donated it to me and I’ve held a name the bear competition – the winning name was Ian.

In October I held a black tie fundraising event. Organising it was very stressful, but all my guests enjoyed themselves - and I raised over £3,000!

Pod image
My overall fundraising target for the trek was £3,750, which was very daunting. But with the help of family and friends I’ve smashed my target already.

My hopes and fears for the trek

I really hope that I get to see the Northern Lights – that’s what I’m most excited about.

My biggest concern is walking the distance and pulling the pulk. My walking has been the biggest barrier for me undertaking this trek and while I have got it to a good place, it still isn’t perfect.

But most of all I hope the money I raise through taking on this trek will help to stop MS.

An end to MS would mean so much to me. To be able to plan my future without having to take into account how my MS will be would be amazing. It would also give me piece of mind to know that my nephews would never have to face this illness.

 Follow Scott's progress on his Facebook page

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