As you would imagine, as one of the trustees of AIMS, I feel very strongly about the ethos behind the charity. My partner, who is also one of the trustees, was diagnosed with RRMS in December 2014. When we first met, in February 2015, there were no signs that she had a condition as nasty or devious as MS. In fact, she was infinitely fitter and healthier than I was. We started dating in March and went on a wonderful holiday to New York and Las Vegas in the October.
Four months later though, in January 2016, things started going wrong. Fast. My partner first developed bouts of optic neuritis, followed by burning in her legs, bone pain in her ankles and pins and needles in her arms and hands. This was followed by a loss of sensation across her abdomen, and then a loss of mobility. By June 2016 she was hospitalised, barely able to move her legs, with no feeling other than numbness in her arms and hands, often blurry vision and impaired speech. An MRI scan showed massive levels of inflammation throughout her brain and spinal cord.
Steroids helped quell the inflammation for a period, but my partner soon found through intensive and in-depth research, that there was a treatment that offered hope. We started to fundraise for HSCT abroad, whilst also applying here in the UK. Luckily, her new neurologist was keen to help and put her forward for the treatment. Being cautious however, the fundraising continued.
I have always been more physical than academic. The tougher the sport, the more I enjoyed it. The more pain I was in after a game, the better I thought it had gone. Bumps and bruises and breaks and cuts were badges of merit to my mind. When it came to fundraising, I was less likely to host a party than others, so I started looking into things I could succeed at doing.
The two most prominent things I decided on were skydiving and Tough Mudder. The Tough Mudder is the event that has truly caught my imagination. Whilst probably not obese, I have been overweight for a number of years. I saw the Tough Mudder as not only a way to help my partner, but also a way to challenge and possibly better myself.
My partner was lucky and has since received HSCT through the NHS. Whilst fundraising however, we got involved with, and became trustees of, AIMS. I’m still not very likely to host a party, but I am continuing to do Tough Mudder events on behalf of AIMS. I get to feel the bumps and bruises (and yes, the breaks – I broke my nose during an event last year) but also a sense of actually helping, as the funds being raised now are all going to AIMS, which will help signpost and inform people about HSCT, and hopefully make it much more accessible to people in the future.
I am always hopeful of having people take part with me in the events. The more we have, the easier it will be. If you want to be involved, please get in touch with a member of the fundraising team, and we’ll help get you on board.