Fundraising for a cure

SHERIDEN Emonson is a wife, a mother and a general practitioner.

Dr Emonson is also one of the estimated 23,000 Australian's with multiple sclerosis.

But, despite her medical background, Dr Emonson refuses to let any textbook or case studies dictate her future and is determined to live life to the full.

"It's important to me not to let any person write a script for my life and say, 'In this many years you're going to need a walking frame', or, 'In this many years you're going to need a wheelchair'," she said.

"I do believe that anything is possible.

"More and more I think in this day and age health professionals are acknowledging that mind/spirit connection with the body and MS isn't alone in that.

"You hear of people who have overcome serious cancers and you think what is it about their journey - it's something that we can't totally understand but I'm hanging onto that."

Dr Emonson said there was room for the "power of positive thinking" ideology to sit alongside her medical knowledge.

"I really loved training as a doctor and I still love and respect learning about the human body and the pathology," she said.

"But the best part is when you have that doctor patient interface and you see these people who conquer these things," she said.

"You see different approaches to a person's journey with a disease and illness and I guess I can learn from that."

MS is a progressive disease of the nervous system and comes with a wide range of symptoms including fatigue, unusual sensations, bladder problems, trouble walking, dizziness, muscle spasms and speech problems.

There is no cure for MS.

More women than men have the disease and, while MS is not directly hereditary, genetic susceptibility plays a part in its development.

"I've had MS for four years now and it's something to come to terms with," Dr Emonson said.

"It's like any chronic illness - you have to come to a point of grieving and accepting and then the rubber hits the road and you have to live each day.

"It's about enjoying what you have."

Dr Emonson, 36, said developing MS had come as a shock.

"MS is extremely variable for different people," she said.

"It's the same pathology - it's demyelination of the nerves so it takes the coating off the nerves and then the nerves can't conduct as efficiently or at all.

"So what you see on an MRI is these plaques in the brain and the spinal cord and it depends on where the plaques are as to what you experience.

"So for me, my initial symptoms where numb hands, a slight tremor sometimes.

"For a year I put it down to just being anxious.

"Probably my first relapse was when I went on holiday to Broome and my right leg just wasn't working - it wasn't as strong as normal and it felt numb.

"I knew what it was."

Dr Emonson is mum to Kezia, 9, and Adah, 6.

"With children everything is a bit bitter sweet," she said.

"Probably the most grief I've had to come to terms with is not being able to look after them like I might have wanted to - not being as active, bouncing on the trampoline, balancing and that kind of thing.

"There's also limitations they see like when I have to say, 'Stop pulling on me, you're going to pull me over'.

"But then they are what gets me going every day and makes me glad about what I can do with them.

"They're the love of our lives."

Dr Emonson has had a couple of relapses over the years.

"Each time you experience the symptoms you have treatment in hospital and then you spend a time rehabilitating as much as you can to get what function you can get back.

"But with MS, each relapse steps you down and then you find a new normal which is never back to normal."

Dr Emonson used to run in the annual MS Walk and Fun Run but her relapses have taken away her ability to jog.

"You have to embrace change," she said.

"There's a lot of blocked goals, you have to stop doing what you've loved doing but you can find something else.

"So I found cycling and swimming as an alternative to jogging.

"It's not the same but that's OK."

Dr Emonson will host a formal dinner event, The Elegant Red Dress, to fundraise for MS Australia.

The event will be at the Bendigo Town Hall on May 24 from 6.30pm.

"MS Australia is a not-for-profit organisation that supports people with MS and also their family and their carers," Dr Emonson said.

"I had this idea to put on a dinner for fundraising this year as opposed to going on the fun run like I've done for a couple of years in the past.

"Instead of just asking for the same people to support me in the run I thought no, I'm going to spoil the people who spoil me constantly.

"But also I wanted to make this dinner an opportunity for people who have MS and their families just to have fun, let their hair down, have a classy evening, lots of prizes and auction items and just to enjoy life a little bit.

"In that I envisioned a guest speaker and I'm very pleased to have Carol Cooke who is a paralympic gold medalist and she's a MS ambassador.

"She has had MS for about 15 years now and just has an amazing testimony and ethos for life that is so catchy, she's just like come and get me, come and get it.

"She'll inspire people with and without MS."

More than 100 tickets to the event have already been sold with more tickets available.

"It's really exciting," Dr Emonson said.

Tickets are available by emailing stephen.sheriden@bigpond.com

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