When Simon was first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), he found the news hard to accept. But over time, he has adopted a decidedly optimistic outlook.
Now he’s making his own positive difference to the future of people living with MS, by leaving a gift in his Will.
Simon’s MS went undiagnosed for a long time. When his symptoms began in 2003, they mimicked other conditions like repetitive strain injuries and carpal tunnel syndrome. The possibility he had MS didn’t even come up.
He spent three difficult years undergoing treatments, and even surgery, for these other conditions, none of which helped. It was an MRI of his brain and spinal cord in 2006 that led to a diagnosis of his MS. “The first shock came when my employer told me MS was an automatic medical retirement trigger. I resisted and tried to continue working, only to have a nervous breakdown at work,” said Simon. That was the end of his information technology career at only 49 years old.
Simon was prescribed an injectable treatment to manage his symptoms, but he struggled to come to terms with his diagnosis. “I had been the big shot computer whizz, where all problems had a solution. Now I had an illness with no solution. My brain couldn’t accept this. In my head I kept searching for a solution that wasn’t there,” he remembered.
After receiving expert injecting advice that allowed Simon to learn how to administer his own injections, as well as being introduced to a counsellor, his outlook on life changed. “The counsellor helped me to learn how to live with an incurable illness and accept my new normal – life with MS,” said Simon.
Today, Simon does his best to live life to the fullest within the boundaries of MS. He feels fortunate to still care for himself most of the time, and his two dogs Mi and Clem help to keep him mobile with their nudges for a walk.
MS may have changed Simon’s life, but he has a ‘glass half full’ outlook and is more positive now than ever. Meeting a counsellor all those years ago and reading the information and resources provided by MS Australia and MS Research Australia set him on the path of positivity, and now he’s passing it forward and making his own positive contribution by leaving a gift to MS Research Australia in his Will.
Simon has been inspired by the advances in medical research helping people affected with MS to live longer, fuller lives, and wanted to support this life-changing progress. Thanks to breakthroughs in medical research, there are now 16 different treatment options. Simon hopes his gift to MS Research Australia will help uncover the cause of MS and maybe even help find a cure.
The process itself was very straightforward. All Simon had to do was give the instructions to his solicitor. He also talked about his gift with his adult children. They understood why it was so important for Simon to include the gift in his Will, and fully supported his decision.
Although a cure is the ultimate goal, Simon’s hope for his bequest is more humble.
“If my gift can help current and future people living with MS, in some small way to better manage their condition, I’ll be happy.”
The smallest gift can make a big difference to the future for people living with MS.
If you’re thinking about leaving a gift to MS Research Australia, the research arm of MS Australia in your Will, our friendly Future Planning Coordinator Tara Koomen will happily answer any questions you may have. You can contact her by calling 02 9646 0622 or send her an email.