Members of the Foyle branch of the MS Society travelled to Stormont on Tuesday to mark Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week at Stormont.
As a local person with MS, and a newly co-opted member of the Northern Ireland Council, I made the journey with my mother and young daughter.
It’s always a great event to go to, as the MS community join together to raise awareness of the chronic condition and also lobby their local MLAs at the same time.
This year the Foyle constituency was well represented, with SDLP, Sinn Fein and the DUP all turning out. It was a great chance for me to impress on them that while the availability of treatments are relatively good in Northern Ireland compared to other parts of the UK, there is still some work to be done.
Many of those living with MS locally and across Northern Ireland still don’t have access to the services and drug treatments they so desperately need, and a lot of the time a postcode lottery exists.
At the minute I am relatively well, but a relapse can happen at any time, and cause any number of symptoms, including vision problems, balance problems and dizziness, fatigue, bladder problems and stiffness and/or spasms, to name a few.
It’s also true that many people have no idea what MS is, or how it affects those diagnosed.
Yet, Northern Ireland has the second highest incidence rate in the world, just behind Scotland, and over 4,500 people in here have the illness.
Thankfully research teams across the world are making great progress and I am forever hopeful that we will see a cure in my lifetime.
In the meantime, for more information on the illness you can find out more at www.mssociety.org.uk.
Finally, a new support group for women with MS starts next Tuesday 5th May at Derry Well Women on Queen Street from 11am-1pm.
All women with MS are welcome.