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A travel agent’s journey to support the MS community

26 June 2024

key-of-support

For over 30 years, travel agent Lois Marshall has helped people explore new horizons. But her particular journey extends beyond travel — it’s about making a difference for people with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Lois realised long ago that people with MS often didn’t go on holidays. As their disease progresses, their world shrinks. It’s harder to leave the house, let alone travel.

Seeing the struggle of friends and clients with MS, Lois felt moved by their courage. This is another reason she began making annual donations to MS Plus 43 years ago.

Lois Marshall

“I knew people with MS and saw how it affected them and their families,” she explains. “Right now, it’s a disease with no cure and no light at the end of the tunnel.”

In 1981, Lois got a letter about a new MS Plus initiative: The Key to MS Treatment and Research. The organisation was close to her then-home in Artarmon, on Sydney’s north shore. The local appeal and urgent need piqued her interest.

“MS was a cause that needed my support, so I signed up,” she recalls.

For her kindness, Lois received a little gold key from MS Plus — which she has kept for over 40 years in her jewellery box. She also received a certificate of appreciation signed by the late Betty Cuthbert, the champion track runner and beloved MS advocate.

But Lois thinks certain diseases are better known and funded these days.

“Currently, there’s a lot of generosity for well-publicised causes like breast and prostate cancer. They’re certainly worthy. But in contrast, MS often gets overlooked and put in the “too-hard basket”. Yet MS needs as much, if not more, financial support for research and treatment,” she says.

“People don’t understand that MS affects not only the patient but also their loved ones. I’m for the underdog and will always consider causes that aren’t so popular. That’s why I support MS,” says Lois.

Ten years ago, Lois extended her generosity by including a gift in her Will to MS Plus. She says the process was straightforward. She wrote instructions and discussed her intention with her solicitor.

Lois remains ‘cautiously optimistic’ that her gift could make a difference.

“While treatments are important, research should be the priority. I don’t mind if research happens in Australia or overseas. Scientists everywhere can learn from each other and share ideas. By working together, they can accelerate the discovery of a cure,” she says.

The key in Lois’s jewellery box remains her reminder that “research is always the key to a cure.”

Lois hopes more people will learn about MS in the future. She believes education might lead to increased funding and support.

“MS sufferers and their families need and deserve hope,” she concludes.

Currently, 33,335 people in Australia have MS. Like Lois, you can be a beacon of hope for them. Since 1956, MS Plus has supported thousands of clients and their loved ones. Gifts in Wills can fund research, treatments, peer support programs and well-being centres. Find out more from Laura or Rebecca at MS Plus. Call 1800 443 867 , visit www.msplus.org.au/how-you-can-help/gifts-in-wills or email futureplanning@msplus.org.au

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A travel agent’s journey to support the MS community