Francis White 

We are all in the same boat”

I have always been an outdoors sort of person and, at first, I couldn’t work out why I always seemed to be tired and plagued by problems, despite an active, healthy lifestyle.  I thought the numbness in my right hand must be a trapped nerve, headaches were diagnosed as optical migraines, fatigue must be due to the stress of a busy teaching job, heading up the Maths department in a busy high school.

Francis WhiteFrequent trips to the doctor shed no light until I started experiencing a drooping right foot while on a bush walking trip and I was, at last, referred to a neurologist.  I was finally diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in June 2017 at the relatively late age of 53 and could then start really fighting back in earnest. 

It took a long time though to get past the initial grief and depression that goes along with the diagnosis and to start working out how to ‘live well’ with my MS. Now, I consider myself very lucky as the disease hit me after my children had become independent and I had enjoyed a fulfilling career, unlike many who are diagnosed much earlier in life.

Having retired from teaching this year after some health setbacks, I still pursue an active lifestyle, having found that exercise is, ironically, one of the most helpful things I can do to keep the MS at bay. I cycle, swim and go to the gym regularly and am pursuing new challenges whenever I can. I was lucky enough last July to take part in Sailing Sclerosis’ Summer Expedition aboard the yacht ‘Oceans of Hope’ in Denmark. Being an active member of the crew rather than just a passenger made me really think about how I can adapt and work around the challenges particular to MS, and I was lucky enough to come away with a great new group of friends, all in the same boat!

I am looking forward to my role as an MS Ambassador so I can help others enjoy the support that I have found so valuable.

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