BY SCOTT CUNNINGHAM
Although Madeline Clark was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 10 years ago, she has since learnt to manage the condition as best as possible.
The young Bicton woman said it was difficult to be diagnosed with MS at age 11, when her friends were enjoying sports and other social activities.
“I didn’t really understand what was happening to me so I just sort of shut down and tried to not think about it but it was still always at the back of my mind,” Madeline said.
She has maintained a happy and healthy lifestyle and has kept a positive outlook on life.
“MS isn’t always a bad thing. It has brought me to an understanding not to dwell on what you don’t have but be thankful for what you do have.”
Rocky Bay Carer Caitee Burgess has worked with Madeline for the past two years and believes a strong support network is important for people suffering from a disability.
“Maddy has always had a good support network around her and this has helped her to stay happy and healthy,” Ms Burgess said.
“Maddy is very independent and does a lot more than most people who suffer from a disability.”
The Kiss Goodbye to MS campaign kicked off on 25 May on World MS Day to promote awareness of the disease in Australia.
Many people know about multiple sclerosis, but they are unaware of the disease symptoms.
MS affects three times as many women as men and the onset of symptoms often occur between the ages of 20 and 40.
It is important that individuals are diagnosed early to ensure the best treatment outcomes possible.
Flash mob dance generates support
The Kiss Goodbye to MS campaign encourages women across Australia to wear red lipstick and discuss MS to ensure more people are aware of the symptoms.
Vodafone Foundation Ambassador in Perth Sara Lyon said more people should get behind the cause.
“The charity is very worthwhile and helps a lot of people as it is a condition which affects a lot of people in Australia.
“The MS Society creates many events which allow us to get involved as a community and help out a really worthy cause.”
The Vodafone Foundation organised a flash mob on World MS day to promote awareness of the condition.
“The flash mob was a great opportunity to raise awareness of the disease,” Ms Lyon said.
“Over 190 dancers got involved including school kids, Vodafone staff and took part in a flash mob dance in Perth city.
“We had over 15 volunteers collecting money on the day and it was great to see so many people get behind it.”
The Federal Government has allowed many people living with MS, who are still able to work, to continue to maintain employment without compromising health care benefits.
Formerly those on disability support pensions had to forgo medical assistance to stay employed; however, changes passed in the federal budget will now allow people to keep a part-time job.
People suffering from MS and other disabilities will now be able to maintain employment while they managed their condition and still be entitled to Disability Support and Health Care benefits.
This is an important step in recognising that people suffering from MS can still be valuable employees to many organisations.
MS Australia’s Manager of Policy and Community Partnerships Alan Blackwood said it was important that people dealing with MS continued to maintain their lifestyle.
“The Government’s announcement creates a positive incentive as well as an additional safety net to enable people with MS and other diseases to stay in the workforce with greater confidence,” Mr Blackwood said.
“Allowing people with MS who are in the workforce to work to their capacity and still receive assistance with their health costs and income support provides an important support for maintaining employment.
“People living with illnesses like MS are often forced to choose between staying at work and giving it away to receive the pension. We hope that this change will mean that people who still have the ability to work will no longer have to make that choice.”