When I was writing the blurb to go on our JustGiving page, I deliberately erred on the side of caution in how I described why we'd chosen the MS Society as the charity we were supporting:
"MS is a disease that has recently touched our lives...."
Perhaps a little coy. My MS isn't exactly a secret, but it's also not something that I'm going out of my way to advertise to all and sundry. I'm all for helping shake off people's preconceptions, but I am also aware that, for people who don't know me all that well, it could easily be the thing that defines me for them. As if to prove the point, one of C's colleagues was asking her about the half marathon and why we were running for the MS Society, and when he was told, he was all.... "Oh, but I saw him the other day and he looked fine".
I was conscious that I was likely to be touting the page at all sorts of people, and I decided that I wanted to tell people -- or not tell them -- about my MS on my own terms... and not via a casual remark on a charity website.
As it turns out, what I'd written was still enough to get a few people curious. Most were content to put their hands into their pockets without probing any deeper, but some were interested enough to try fishing (but not outright asking) for more information, and one or two quietly managed to read between the lines and approached me for a word. Interestingly, in every case, the people who approached me had also had their lives touched by MS: either because a close member of their family was a sufferer, or because they themselves had it. I already know of a couple of people in the office whose lives have been affected by MS in this way, but I was still very surprised when on particular colleague of mine approached me and revealed that she had MS and would be more than happy to speak to whoever it was that I knew who was suffering.
Surprised? Why would I be surprised? Haven't I been going on and on about how MS is a disease that is often invisible? Was I not just mildly disdainful, a mere two paragraphs above, about one of C's colleagues who remarked that I was looking surprisingly well? Just goes to show, eh? Seems we all have preconceptions about multiple sclerosis and multiple sclerosis sufferers, me included. Well, I've worked with this lady for several years now, and not only is she superb at her job, but she is also one of those lovely, warm friendly types who are a real joy to work with. She's about the same age as me, and since I've worked with her, she has married, had two kids and run a half marathon (for the MS Society, I discover....). And yet apparently she was diagnosed with MS when she was in her early 20s and a student - which must have been quite a shock to the system, to say the least. We had lunch together on Monday and swapped notes (she doesn't actually know anyone else with MS). It turns out that she has had a couple of relapses since diagnosis (including the temporary loss of sight in one eye), but is generally doing quite well and is not on any disease modifying drug therapy. It turns out that we even see the same neurologist.....
Who knew that people with MS might turn out to be people just like me? It was good to talk. Maybe we should form a club or something? Perhaps with a special badge, or a secret handshake?
Maybe not, eh?
Just a quick update on our fundraising, the total raised for MS Society currently stands at £2,775 with a further £489.36 of Gift Aid. That gives us a grand total of £3,264.36.
....I reckon that LB, C and I have done pretty well there, eh?
Thanks to you all for your generosity.
You can still donate, actually..... what are you waiting for?