In this guest blog, MS-UK marketing volunteer Catherine Thompson looks at the inspiring athletes facing MS at the Rio 2016 Paralympics and why MS-UK is so proud of everyone taking part…
In the land of Bossa Nova where Samba beats pulse through the air comes a group of exceptional souls, who have overcome adversity to triumph on the World stage. The Paralympics 2016 is upon us and at MS-UK we are championing a group of remarkable athletes who proudly own their own diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.
Stephanie Millward is a Paralympic swimmer and an amazing supporter of MS-UK. Stephanie has written an incredible article in the latest issue of our New Pathways magazine. She was diagnosed with MS at the age of 17. The article is both inspiring and insightful. Having gone black blind three times as a result of her MS, she vividly conjures the heightened sensory experience of a shining sun in a piercing blue sky. Stephanie writes about the power of mind over matter. If she thinks positive she can stay on top of her MS.
Australian cyclist Carole Cooke is proud to be competing in her second Paralympic Games. She is also proud to have MS. Cooke has lived with the diagnosis since 1998 and is philosophical about the condition. She believes that if you dare to face your fears, you can achieve anything. Cooke was told by her doctor that her life as she knew it was over. Instead it was the beginning of an extraordinary new chapter, a journey that has led to her winning an Olympic Gold medal at the 2012 London Paralympics. British sprinter and cyclist Kadeena Cox transitioned from an able-bodied to a disabled athlete after a stroke led to MS. Cox did not want this set back to define her, so she has put all her energy into para-sport.
To overcome the internal battle with your prognosis takes immense courage. To overcome society’s prejudices and limitations takes greater qualities, those of perseverance, foresight and spirit. Every one of us who lives with a chronic condition knows the struggle to overcome, but we also understand the power held in doing so. Taking up the mantle is hard. Our instincts can be to shy away, to shrink ourselves, to give in and deny our truth. Then our greatness would go unacknowledged, unseen and our lessons untaught.
The Paralympics demonstrates the ultimate expression of conquering our fears. Whatever your goals are, however you overcome adversity is heroic and with this heroism comes a kind of peace, a peace with society, with your relationships and mostly with yourself. So be inspired to action; run for us, skydive or simply follow our work. As Stephanie said in her article, take a step today to move forward and change your life for the better. We at MS-UK are in your corner and behind you all the way.
My name is Catherine Thompson. I was born in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, on 05 September 1983. I have a degree in Modern History from the University of Essex. I have worked for charities for over six years. I recently created a special project for MS-UK, which I greatly enjoyed. I was greatly inspired to write this blog about the Paralympic swimmer, Stephanie Millward. Stephanie is a wonderful supporter of MS-UK and we will be cheering her along in the Rio 2016 Paralympics. I wrote from the heart and I hope it goes straight to yours.