A mother from Leeds has spoken out about her journey with multiple sclerosis (MS) and how treatment has saved her life in a video to support the MS Society’s ‘Kiss Goodbye to MS’ campaign. Karen Ayres hopes her story will inspire people to raise vital funds for MS research.
The 39-year-old, who teaches at Leeds University, lives in Weetwood with her partner Andrew and two children Milla, who’s 4, and Sonny who’s 14 months. Karen first started experiencing strange symptoms when she was just 24. She was on a night out with work colleagues and fell to the floor in a night club. Then a few weeks later while in the bathroom, she collapsed again. Though this time, she was left paralysed from the neck down
Karen spent the following three months in hospital where her condition worsened. The rapid onset of symptoms made her weight drop dramatically to less than six stone. She had to be fed, washed and dressed, and her limbs encased in casts at night to prevent her bones from bending.
She said: “I had lost all control over her body. It was the scariest thing that you can imagine. It was almost claustrophobic to be unable to move anything, like being trapped in your own body. I remember lying there, barely able to speak and hooked up to all these machines, wondering whether I was going to be that way forever.”
The MS Society is encouraging people to help ‘Kiss Goodbye to MS’ by giving up their worst habit or favourite luxury to raise vital funds for MS research. More than 100,000 people are living in the UK with MS. It’s unpredictable and can cause problems with the way you walk, move, see, think and feel, but the MS Society is funding research to try and stop MS.
After Karen was diagnosed, she was given the opportunity to take part in a pioneering clinical trial. For six months, she was treated with a chemotherapy drug before starting a daily of injection of Copaxone, a disease modify treatment (DMT) for relapsing MS. Within a matter of weeks, she had completely regained the use of her body.
Karen has since backpacked around five continents, gone back to university to study her masters and PhD, and had two children.
She said: “One of the things that terrified me was that I’d that never be able to have a family. And without this treatment, I probably wouldn’t have been well enough to. Without the research that led to the clinical trial and me getting this treatment, I just don’t think I’d be here. It’s truly given me my life back.
“MS is unpredictable and a diagnosis can be life-changing, but I want people to know that with the right treatment it doesn’t have to be the end of your life.”