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Gary Marsh

A sense of belonging

Gary Marsh

It was while working as an Economics and Business Teacher and Head of Department at a school in Folkestone that Gary first realised something wasn’t right.

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Gary Marsh

Tony and Kate Teed

Primary Progressive MS

Tony Teed

Originally from Essex, Tony Teed and his wife, Kate, moved to Kent for Tony’s work in the print and direct mail industry. Real childhood sweethearts,

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Tony And Kate Teed

Helen Broadwell

Funny Gait

Helen Broadwell

Former Nurse, Helen Broadwell, is both a member and volunteer APS Therapist at KMSTC.
Helen’s own MS diagnosis came back in 2008 when a colleague of hers commented
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Helen Broadwell

Oxygen Therapy for healing and pain relief

Caught up in a hijacking

At the age of 26 Catherine Hill’s life was changed forever in the most dramatic fashion. While on a trip with her then boyfriend, she found herself in the midst of a PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation) plane hijacking.

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“‘Learn to adapt’ is my motto”

Inquisitive mind

Cecile Garrick may be a senior, as she puts it, but she most definitely still has a young, inquisitive mind.

“I was diagnosed with MS in 1992 and have been a member of KMSTC since 2015. I’ve tried not to let MS change my life completely, but there are times when it’s difficult. For example, fatigue means delegating jobs I used to do for myself. At first this was hard to accept but gradually I managed it… well almost.

‘Learn to adapt’ is my motto. One change I have made has been to take up pottery instead of fabric printing and designing clothes and soft furnishings as I used to. I donate much of what I make to KMSTC to sell in their shop. It keeps me active and helps me put something back.

I’ve tried not to let MS change my life completely, but there are times when it’s difficult.

“Even after several setbacks I try to keep busy at home and swimming a few times a week also helps.

“I am always busy learning and researching things online – I never thought using a laptop would become a hobby for me, but the internet is such an amazing tool.

“My husband and two sons help me a lot and my carers are much appreciated because without their help I would not be able to attend the lovely, friendly Kent MS Therapy Centre every week. Everyone at the Centre is so helpful and patient. I also have Oxygen Therapy which really helps with my energy levels and chronic pain.”

Cecile Garrick KMSTC Member

I became a member of the MS Centre in Canterbury in October 2015. I have suffered from MS since 1984 and although I have been fairly mobile over the years and have kept reasonably fit by swimming regularly, I wanted to be more proactive with my condition.

The centre is a wonderful place manned by dedicated volunteers and health professionals. It has multiple facilities including a well equipped gym with equipment modified for ms sufferers, a hydrotherapy pool and an Oxygen Therapy chamber. Excellent physiotherapists are on hand to advise and monitor the members and yoga, pilates and acupuncture are available.

The centre is a charity and as such the facilities are funded by voluntary contributions and donations although some activities e.g. yoga and acupuncture are provided by outside professionals and as such have a charge albeit quite low. The Oxygen Therapy chamber also has a cost but is subsidised for those with MS.

The centre is a large, modern and sunny space in attractive grounds.It has a comfortable open plan communal area and many activities and talks are regularly organised with members encouraged to take part and assist.

It is extremely well run, welcoming and friendly and everyone is able to relax, chat, make friends and share their stories and advice. There is always someone with a sympathetic understanding ear. It is so valuable to be able to discuss your condition with other people dealing with similar problems.

Members are able to improve their health and strength in the knowledge that they are receiving treatment and advice from qualified people with neurological expertise.

Since joining I have felt more in control of my condition and more positive and I feel sure that many members feel the same. It is a wonderful facility.

Susan Good, KMSTC Member

“Focus on what you can do – not what you can’t”

Get the most out of life

Having lived with MS for 28 years so far, former antiques trader Sheila Steinberg, 65 from Herne Bay, says her stubbornness helps her get the most out of life.

“I was in my mid-30s when I noticed something might be wrong. Walking didn’t seem the same any more as my left leg started dragging slightly with each step.

Then there was extreme tiredness lasting for weeks at a time. I ran an antiques business with my then-husband, Michael, and felt exhausted while preparing for nationwide buying trips and exhibiting at antique fairs both here and in the USA.

When my hands went completely numb and vision started blurring aged 37 I sought help. My opthalmologist recommended I see a neurologist, and in 1987 aged 38 came the diagnosis: ongoing secondary progressive MS.

Learning to live with MS

When I was first diagnosed the fatigue was truly dreadful. It’s hard to describe it properly to anyone who hasn’t experienced the tiredness. It just envelopes you and drains every bit of energy from the body. Worse still, there never seems to be a pattern to when it happens.

I kept working in our antique business for about five years, but eventually the travel involved got too much for me and I had to give up.

Although it was very busy and extremely hard work, my life in antiques had been wonderful. My ex-husband and I had made friends around the world and had so many great experiences.

But when you change from being an active, busy person to living with a debilitating condition like MS, it can be hard for a partner to cope with. Sadly we eventually divorced, although we’re still on good terms.

Finding out about Kent MS Therapy Centre

A friend who had suffered from polio had a colleague with MS who was having treatment at the centre, and suggested it’d be a good place for me to try.

But I hadn’t properly accepted my condition and didn’t feel I needed extra help yet.

As time goes on you learn to live with it and think about how you can get through it. And a few years in, my mindset changed.

It wasn’t so much a case of needing extra support, but I was keen to see what else was out there for someone with a condition like MS.

As soon as I walked through the centre doors in 1991, I realised what a special place it was.

Having somewhere to go where everyone was in the same boat has proved invaluable. If I go in on a day when I’m not feeling good, I’m bound to see someone who’s having a tougher time. That really puts things into perspective.

There are also the treatments. I have a distorted retina, and regular Oxygen Therapy has helped with my vision as well as eased fatigue.

Falling ill

Things were on an even keel until a few years ago in 2008 when I fell very ill with a virus not connected with MS.

It meant a four month stay in hospital – a fortnight of that in intensive care – and being left utterly debilitated afterwards. The centre’s wonderful physiotherapist Sue Turnbull (now retired), along with Oxygen Therapy, played a key role in helping me slowly recover my mobility afterwards.

Day to day

These days, my fatigue isn’t as bad as it was at the start. Either that, or I’ve grown used to it over the years although am sure Oxygen Therapy has helped enormously. When I do feel very tired, I tell myself I won’t feel like this all the time.

At home, I can do most things whizzing around in a wheelchair but do walk a little with a frame, and use a wheelchair to go out. I also have carers each morning to help me get ready for the day. Everyday tasks like getting dressed and making my bed take me so long, and having help makes life less frustrating.

Although I live alone, my mother lives in the upstairs flat from me which is good for mutual support when we need it.

Advice for the newly diagnosed

For anyone struggling to come to terms with their diagnosis, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Being part of Kent MS Therapy Centre hasn’t just been a vital source of support but it’s also opened me up to experiences I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

As well as doing a tandem parachute jump out of a plane, I took part in the Snowdon Challenge a few years back. This involved being carried in a wheelchair converted in a sedan chair round Snowdonia National Park by soldiers from Shorncliffe Barracks, Folkstone.

Both were to raise money to build our new centre, but I gained a lot more in terms of confidence and fulfilment from being involved.

Focus on what’s possible

I always try to focus on what I can do – and not what I can’t. Things aren’t easy – often preparing to do something or go somewhere is the hardest part rather than the actual event. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t have slumps, but with the right approach you can still do so much.

If someone tells me I can’t do something, I’m even more determined to prove them wrong. I don’t like giving in, and many of the people I’ve met who also live with MS are the same.”

Retired graduate chartered librarian Cate Jackson, 61 from Whitstable, has type-2 diabetes, congestive heart failure, COPD, sleep apnea and osteo-arthritis as well as MS. Her secret? Always trying to “look on the bright side of life” as the Monty Python team expounded!

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Cate Jackson KMSTC Member

Jo Dunk, 40 from Canterbury, was diagnosed with MS as a new mum in 2009. Refusing to let the condition define her, she battled chronic tiredness – and risk of a relapse – to have a second baby in 2011. (more…)

Jo Dunk KMSTC Member

Sue Crook, 65 from Canterbury (on the far left in the photo), tries to see the positive in every situation, and was part of the ‘Red Wheelies’ until they retired recently.

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Sue Crook And The Red Wheelies

As a young person with MS the centre has made a real difference to my life. I love having a place to come that no one else in my life sees, but makes me feel normal and not labelled by the disease.  It’s brilliant!

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

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Gilly Stowe KMSTC Member
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