Today, people are able to live well with MS thanks to the power of gifts in Wills. These amazing contributions, from supporters just like you, have allowed us to continue funding MS research advancements and breakthroughs, keeping symptoms at bay for many people living with the disease. MS research continues to go from strength to strength – only a few decades ago outcomes for people with MS were poor, but with funding and generous donations to MS research, we know more about MS than ever before.
In the lead up to Include a Charity week next month (7-13 September), we spoke with long-time supporter of MS Research Australia, Margaret Callister. Margaret’s experience of MS is close to home and she shared with us how things have changed during her lifetime, and why she’s chosen to power MS research with a gift in her Will to create a brighter future.
Margaret’s sister Helen was first told she had MS in 1954 at the age of 29 and Margaret recalls how, “Back then there was no support really, no cure. Nobody had even heard of MS.”
The precursors of Helen’s MS would be clearer to recognise today, but with limited research and understanding of the disease over 60 years ago, it left many people wondering.
“Helen was always a frail child, but into her 20s she had trouble coordinating”, Margaret tells us. “She would be at the top of the steps at the train station wondering how she’d get down. She had lots of falls and eventually couldn’t go to work anymore.”
“Back then, my mother wasn’t sure how long she could continue caring for Helen. We didn’t have home help available in those days. I remember once Helen was in the bath and couldn’t get out – after that, she didn’t want to have baths anymore. One of my jobs was to wash her while she was sitting on a stool.”
“A family friend who worked at Ryde’s ‘Home for the Incurables’ suggested that Helen move there. Other people with MS lived there, as well as those with various different diseases. Helen was cared for, but her health gradually deteriorated over the next 23 years until she finally succumbed.”
“Helen’s MS diagnosis completely changed our family and our way of life… we were grateful that the home was able to make things easier on her during her time there.”
Margaret has seen the MS landscape change dramatically in her lifetime. Only a couple of years after Helen was diagnosed, public awareness of MS began to increase significantly in Australia. Over the following decades, Margaret began to see new support facilities open to help people cope with their MS. Today, she reflects on the many treatments now available for people to relieve their symptoms and live fuller lives, and feels confident that research is the best place to lend her support.
Asked why she decided to remember MS Research Australia in her Will, Margaret tells us, “I hope my gift will help find a cure so that people diagnosed with MS don’t have to gradually deteriorate like my sister did. In the long run, research is essential. It’s so necessary when you’ve got all the pieces of the jigsaw but don’t know how to put them together and when you get answers from it, it can help with various types of care as well.”
Include a Charity week runs from 7-13 September, reminding us of the positive and direct impact of charitable gifts in Wills for future research into MS. If you’re considering this type of gift and would like more information, please contact Nicki Grant, Gifts in Wills Manager on 02 8413 7927, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit msra.org.au/ways-to-donate/gifts-in-wills .