Jenny has been living with MS for over 30 years and is a firm believer in doing whatever she can to help herself and others with the disease. She is an active member of an MS Peer Support Group as well as participating in The May 50K, a virtual fitness and fundraising challenge throughout the month of May.
Recently, Jenny did something that could change the future for people with MS forever – she decided to leave a gift in her Will.
In 1985, Jenny was 14 weeks pregnant when she first noticed her MS symptoms.
“I couldn’t use my right arm. I didn’t know what the problem was and went to a neurologist for tests. They couldn’t confirm what it was at that stage because I was pregnant, but I was pretty sure I had MS,” Jenny remembered.
When her son Paul was born, Jenny still hadn’t regained the use of her arm but she refused to let that hold her back. She learned how to do everything one handed and loved every minute of being a new mum.
After six months Jenny’s arm was a little bit better, but then she started having problems with her legs. A lumbar puncture confirmed what Jenny had suspected all along, she had MS.
At the time, there were no treatments or medications available for MS in Australia and over the next few years, Jenny’s symptoms became worse. She began tripping and falling, and to keep her balance she started walking with a hiking stick.
In her typical fashion, Jenny approached this change in her life with courage and a sprinkle of humour by following her sister’s suggestion and naming her new stick ‘Ada’ – because it ‘aids her’.
With Ada by her side, Jenny felt ready for a new challenge and asked a nurse if it’d be safe to take an overseas trip. The nurse agreed on one condition: Jenny had to start a newly developed MS medication and give herself injections every second day.
Whilst overseas, Jenny found that she could walk longer and further than she had in years, and she even regained the use of her right arm.
Jenny’s newfound mobility showed her just how powerful MS medications can be. From that point on, she became determined to support research into MS – to help find new treatments, and ultimately a cure.
Thanks to breakthroughs in medical research, there are now 16 different treatment options for MS – including the injection that changed Jenny’s life.
Since then, Jenny has raised money for MS research by taking part in The May 50K (with the support of Ada). She became president of her local Rotary Club, who support her fundraising cause by making an annual donation to MS Research Australia/MS Australia.
She’s also become active in the MS community by volunteering as an MS Peer Support person and taking trips as required to Canberra to advocate for the 25,600 Australians living with MS.
Jenny’s passion to find a cure for MS is driven by a desire to make sure ‘nobody is as stricken by the disease as I was’. She’s been encouraged by the huge progress in the last decade that’s accelerating life-changing research into MS. People with MS can now live longer, fuller lives, and a cure could be available in Jenny’s lifetime.
Now Jenny is making sure that progress continues long after she’s gone by including a gift to MS Research Australia/MS Australia in her Will.
Jenny said the process was ‘simple’. Once she’d made the decision all it took was a quick call to her solicitor. Today, Jenny is still helping her MS community in every way she can, and her gift means she’ll continue changing the lives of people with MS for generations to come.
If you’d like to find out more about including MS Research Australia/MS Australia in your Will, our friendly Future Planning Coordinator Tara would be happy to answer any questions you may have. You can also download our Gift in Wills brochure here or at www.msra.org.au/gifts-in-wills
You can get in touch with Tara by calling her on 02 9646 0622 or you can send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please know that a gift of any size can make a huge difference. Even leaving 1% of your assets (after you’ve taken care of your family) could help change the future for people living with MS.