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Clare woman speaks about living with Multiple Sclerosis ahead of World MS Day

A CLARE woman living with Multiple Sclerosis has spoken about her “life changing” diagnosis and the challenges she has faced this year ahead of World MS Day 2021.
Margaret Lohan Gunning, said, “I have Multiple Sclerosis, MS, for many years. It is a life-changing diagnosis where one must rethink life’s goals and expectations.
“The past year has brought added challenges. While I was concerned about contracting Covid, I knew I had to stay physically active.
Margaret told the Champion that physical activity is important for people with MS, for their mental, physical and social wellbeing.
“My physical activity consisted of short walks outdoors, face to face group physiotherapy classes and yoga. All that changed in March 2020. I was however able to participate in exercise classes online.
“Group exercise classes, organised by the MS community worker and led by a physiotherapist, were delivered via zoom.”
World MS Day takes place on Sunday, May 30, with the aim of raising awareness and support for people living with MS, the most common debilitating neurological condition affecting young adults in Ireland.
In the current climate, the day takes on new importance as the 9,000 people in Ireland living with MS have faced various challenges throughout the pandemic.
The theme for World MS Day 2020-2022 is ‘connections’. The MS Connections campaign is about challenging social barriers and stigma that can leave people affected by MS feeling lonely and isolated.
This includes building communities that support and nurture people affected by MS, promoting self-care and healthy living, lobbying decision-makers for better services and effective treatment for people with MS.
Ava Battles, chief executive of MS Ireland said, “World MS Day is the MS movement’s annual campaign to raise awareness of the condition and to support and connect the 2.8 million people living with it worldwide, it is a day to celebrate global solidarity and hope for the future.
“In Ireland, it is a day where we shine a spotlight on the lives of the 9,000 people in Ireland living with MS, some of whose daily lives have been seriously impacted and altered by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The MS Connections campaign is all about building community connection. Unfortunately, as a result of the pandemic and restrictions some of these connections that our community heavily rely on may have suffered and in some cases are no longer available.
“Our community have endured cancelled appointments, delayed treatments, and restrictions on our services such as face to face community meet-ups which meant they also lost some of the physical and emotional day-to-day support that is invaluable to them.
“The pandemic made us realise just how important these connections really are. World MS Day is a day where we can highlight how valued these connections are to the people we support as we all look forward to our lives going back to some normality in the coming months ahead.”
World MS Day 2021 is set to be a very different affair to previous years. The international day of awareness and fundraising is met with a whole new set of challenges this year.
In light of this, MS Ireland decided that this year’s World MS Day should go off with a virtual bang. The organisation is launching a Virtual Balloon Race with the hope of launching 9,000 virtual balloons, one for each person in Ireland living with MS.
Using algorithms, live weather systems and Google maps, the virtual balloon racing platform allows balloons to behave, fly and burst just like real balloons.
The balloons will be virtually launched from their Care Centre in Bushy Park on May 30 at 9pm. For more information visit www.ms-society.ie
Members of the public with any queries relating to MS are invited to call the MS Information Line 1850 233 233 which is available Monday-Friday, 9.30am-1.30 pm. All calls are strictly confidential.

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