“I’m still me – I just have MS too”

Diagnosed with MS seven years ago, KMSTC member Gilly Stowe, is 56 and lives in Herne Bay. She’s also a trustee and former chairman of the voluntary fundraising group.

“Eight years ago, I had a busy and active career giving cookery demonstrations to hundreds of people as a home economist. I enjoyed going to aerobics, dancing, held dinner parties for friends and travelled abroad with my husband, Keith.

“But then I noticed I kept scuffing my foot when I walked. Tests eventually revealed multiple sclerosis.”

Coming to terms with MS

“My diagnosis seven years ago stopped me in my tracks. It was hard to accept life would never be the same again. As well as having to give up my job, I couldn’t do aerobics or dance any more, and my sociable lifestyle changed.

“It’s only been recently that I’ve been able to say out loud ‘My name’s Gilly and I have MS’. Before, it felt like admitting defeat.

“Like many with MS, fatigue is a major issue for me. It takes a superhuman effort to do things others take for granted. Answering the front door is exhausting, as is just putting on a pair of socks.

“I use a wheelchair when out and about as it’s too tiring to walk. It’s frustrating, but I have to go with the flow as there’s no choice. I’m still Gilly – I just have MS too.”

Discovering Kent MS Therapy Centre

“My MS nurse first told me about the centre, and I finally visited three months after my diagnosis. My first impressions weren’t great – I remember thinking it looked like a rundown shack! Inside though, things couldn’t have been more different – incredibly warm, welcoming and supportive.

“This place has been a total haven for me. I can come in and be utterly myself. However loving and supportive your family is, it’s indescribable to be around like-minded people who are going through the same. We can laugh about how we’re feeling – in fact, giggling about feeling we’re about to fall over is all part of the therapy. We don’t want sympathy – or for people to think we’ve been drinking! When you live with an incurable condition, humour is vital – and that’s why the centre works.

“I felt very emotional walking through the doors of the brand-new centre for the first time, and so proud of all we’ve achieved. Above all, I’m thrilled we’ll be able to help far more people who need it – just like I’ve been helped.”