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Parents inspired George’s resilience and gift to MS research

27 March 2024

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In the face of a 25-year odyssey with multiple sclerosis (MS), George stands as a testament to the power of resilience and optimism. The indomitable spirit of his immigrant parents inspired him. George’s unwavering positive outlook has not only shaped his own journey. This outlook has also led him to give back to the MS community in a meaningful way.

The origins of George’s optimistic mindset trace back to his parents. They, like many in the 1950s, migrated to Australia seeking a better life. Despite missing their homeland of Lebanon, George’s parents embraced the opportunity that Australia gave them. They worked to provide a promising future for their four Australian-born children. George reflects, “I get my strength and resilience from my parents. Their example taught me I can survive too.”

George’s positive attitude has been a guiding force in coping with the challenges of living with MS. When diagnosed in the late 1990s, his close-knit family became a pillar of support. Family helped him maintain an upbeat demeanour. George acknowledges the unpredictable nature of MS. George often tells others, “I cannot control the fact that I have MS, but what I can control is my attitude.”

George was in his late 20’s when he started feeling off. He thought it was stress-related due to his work and lifestyle. “I worked quite hard and would enjoy partying like most people in their twenties do. I was basically burning the candle at both ends,” he recalls.

His first ever symptoms occurred when going to work. George froze going upstairs and “forgot how to walk.” Later, he suffered bouts of crushing fatigue and vertigo. Doctors struggled to diagnose him. Eventually, a neurologist confirmed his MS diagnosis.

George’s journey took a turn when his condition advanced from relapsing remitting MS to secondary progressive MS. Eventually, relying on a wheelchair to get around. Undeterred, he leveraged his expertise in architectural design. He went on to establish his own successful firm, studio4design. This allowed him to work from home at his own pace.

Later, he used his considerable knowledge of architecture and design to become an accredited access consultant. George opened an access consultancy business called Access Mobility Solutions. “I can provide a unique perspective. I am someone with first-hand knowledge of the architectural profession, living with MS, and the experience of a manual wheelchair user. This is a dual perspective on access issues. It enables me to create more accessible buildings. This accessibility is not only for people with disabilities, but the elderly and parents with prams,” he states.

Recognising the need for peer support, George became a peer support volunteer at MS Plus. For the last fourteen years he has been extending a helping hand to the newly diagnosed. Drawing from the strength instilled by his parents, he shares his positive attitude. This helps empower those grappling with the impact of MS. “It gives me a sense of achievement and joy knowing I can help others living with MS,” he affirms.

Recently, George formulated a ‘blueprint’ to further assist those affected by MS. Inspired by his late mother, who sadly passed away from cancer nine years ago. Thus, George expressed his desire to support MS Plus with a gift in his Will. “I want to follow her example and leave something behind for MS Plus. What I like about a legacy is its usefulness. I’m proud I will be doing something once I’ve passed on. I have a sense of accomplishment from that,” he shares.

George’s journey embodies the transformative power of resilience, optimism, and giving back. From his parents’ enduring spirit to his own triumphs of living with MS. George’s story inspires hope. It also underscores the importance of leaving a meaningful legacy for the benefit of others. In the face of adversity, George stands as a beacon of strength. It proves that even with a challenging diagnosis, a positive attitude can make a lasting impact on the lives of those around us.

George joins a group of remarkable individuals, the MS Callistemon League. These loving supporters have made a legacy commitment to fast-track to a cure for MS and care until we’re there.

We are incredibly grateful for this commitment and their legacy will always be remembered. Their lives will be acknowledged in our digital Celebration of Life Book.

A gift in a Will, big or small, can make a difference to people with MS. It can fund research or services or both. It’s your choice. Call the MS Plus Future Planning team on 1800 443 867, email futureplanning@msplus.org.au, or visit My MS Legacy to learn more.

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Parents inspired George’s resilience and gift to MS research