While most people her age were beginning their careers, Samantha Sims was learning to come to terms with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. After experiencing blurred vision, numbness in her face, slurred speech and double vision, a 22-year-old Samantha was given an answer to her symptoms: multiple sclerosis.
Some 23 years later, Samantha still remembers the fear she felt around her diagnosis.
“I was really scared,” she says. “I was fit, healthy and in a great job in my chosen industry…my parents and sister were devastated and I was confused. My boyfriend (now husband of almost 18 years) was the most together – calm and able to ask all the important questions and make me feel better.”
Samantha has endured some trying times over the years, experiencing blindness in one eye for up to six weeks and severe numbness which prevented her from walking properly, and sometimes even driving.
“As the mother of two kids, these things are frustrating and take away your independence,” she says.
But Samantha persevered and as her health improved, she began to involve herself and her family in the MS community, finishing her first 10km run at the Melbourne MS Walk + Fun Run.
“The sense of pride I had was amazing – that my 44-year-old body with multiple sclerosis could do this was priceless,” she says.
Wanting to support others who aren’t in such a positive position with their multiple sclerosis, Samantha and her family kick-started a legendary effort to involve themselves in MS events.
“My family and I have participated in the MS Walk + Fun Run since 2008. My husband and son, who are keen cyclists, decided to branch out to the MS Melbourne Cycle, and it became a full family affair in 2014 as my then eight-year-old daughter was adamant that she should be able to ride as well.”
Samantha’s son, Daniel has been a long term top junior fundraiser – raising a massive $2,711 for the Melbourne Cycle last year. This year Sam’s 10 year old daughter Charlie is fundraising and so far has raised $1,365!
Samantha describes herself as “incredibly lucky” for not needing to use our services much along her journey with multiple sclerosis, but she says just knowing that help is accessible if she needs it provides her with the peace of mind to feel supported.
“Just knowing people are there to talk to when I need support or information is so reassuring to me,” she says. “I have met many people who have multiple sclerosis in my local community as well as at MS events over the past 10 years and many of these people use the services provided and find them very helpful”.
Join Sam’s family in 2017 and register for the MS Melbourne Cycle. Your support helps provide services for people like Sam, who live with the unpredictability of multiple sclerosis on a daily basis.
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