Melissa Quirk was 27 years old, in the prime of her life, when she was diagnosed with MS in 2015. As a young female between 20-40 years old, her demographics were in line with the usual profile of MS. However, Melissa’s journey to diagnosis was different.
In contrary to many others, she was diagnosed rather quickly and thankfully didn’t go through the weeks, months and sometimes even years of uncertainty prior to receiving her diagnosis.
Melissa’s first symptoms appeared only a couple of weeks before she was diagnosed. She noticed a change when walking and had difficulties putting one foot in front of the other after sitting down for long periods of time. Melissa didn’t think much of the symptoms at the time and instead attributed them to wearing high heels too often.
One morning, she woke up with her foot tremoring and it didn’t stop, no matter how she moved it. She hoped it would dissipate as the day went on, but upon taking her dogs for a walk, her walking difficulties came back.
Melissa went to see her doctor in hope of receiving a referral to see a physiotherapist. However, when her doctor performed a pin prick test down her leg to check if she could feel the sharpness of the pin, she couldn’t feel any sensation when it reached her ankle. Following this discovery, Melissa’s doctor referred her to the Emergency Department for further investigation and testing.
“I was admitted on Thursday. Friday morning, I had an MRI and by Friday afternoon I was diagnosed with MS,” Melissa describes.
She recalls being in complete denial about her diagnosis.
“I knew it was bad, but I didn’t want to know how bad. [I thought] ‘this is what I’ve got and no one’s going to tell you what’s going to happen or how you’re going to end up.’”
Already an anxious person, this feeling heightened Melissa’s anxiety. However, once Melissa came to terms with her new diagnosis and she got back into her usual routine, her perspective shifted. She realised the things she once used to stress about weren’t worth her worries anymore.
“Over that year, my mental health really began to improve – I was looking at things differently.”
The shift in Melissa’s outlook made her realise that she didn’t want to sit back and wait to see how her life would unravel.
“I really wanted to take some of the power back,” she says.
Melissa thoroughly looked into the benefits of healthy eating and exercise on MS, resulting in her joining a gym and taking up running – two things she had never done before.
It was also at this time, in 2016, that Melissa got involved with Kiss Goodbye to MS to raise funds for MS research. She has been unstoppable ever since!
Melissa has participated in the City2Surf and Bay to Bay run, sold chocolates, hosted her own fundraising events and took on The May 50K every year – collectively raising an astonishing $20,116.88 to help power world-class MS research and improve the future of people living with MS like herself. She has even participated in clinicals trials, volunteered her time and even jumped in front of the camera for MS Research Australia and The May 50K 2021.
“I really want research to progress quicker than my disease.”
Sadly, over the past couple of years, Melissa’s symptoms have gotten worse. She can no longer run and is unable to walk long distances. Despite this Melissa’s dedication and commitment to accelerating MS research and stopping the disease has continued.
Melissa continues to be passionate about research and says that an important part of her MS journey was finding out how she could give back to the MS community.
“Without hope, there’s just fear. That’s why fundraising for life-changing MS research is so important to me – it gives me hope for the future.”
We can’t wait to continue to watch Melissa shine in her role as a Kiss Goodbye to MS Ambassador. Her support is instrumental in highlighting the importance of keeping up the momentum in life-changing MS research today and in the future.
For more information on how you can raise funds for life-changing MS research, please head to: www.kissgoodbyetoms.org or contact the Kiss Goodbye to MS team on 1300 785 717.