Lisa Vowles

“I do this BECAUSE I have MS” 

Lisa VowlesIn 2010, I was doing a two-hour round trip to work as a primary school teacher in rural Victoria, as well as caring for my own three young children. The traveling and long hours eventually took their toll, so I decided to take some time off to spend with my family.

I then decided to work closer to home as an emergency teacher to help manage fatigue and stress levels. At the time, I thought I had the work/life balance right, but my body thought otherwise!

In 2013, I experienced what felt like a stroke and I was rushed to hospital with paralysis down my right side, slurred speech and numbness on my face.

I was then referred onto a neurologist who swiftly ordered an MRI.  After months of tests and waiting for results, I was eventually diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2014 at the age of 39.

In the lead up to my diagnosis, I had experienced what I now know were numerous MS relapses and worsening of my symptoms which included numbness and pins and needles to my hands, dyspraxia (word finding), fatigue, brain fog and blurred vision. It all just made sense. It was then that I decided to give up my teaching career and focus on my health and my family. The first few years had their challenges and a lengthy period of grief until I made the decision to face my diagnosis head on.

I had this ‘crazy idea’ that I wanted to just escape my mindset and learn how to run – thinking that this would give me the focus and drive to move forward with my new life as a person living with multiple sclerosis.

I knew this was not going to be easy - it took twelve dedicated months of hard one-on-one work with a personal trainer.  I would later appear on Chanel 9’s “This Time Next Year” where I declared not only to myself, but to the whole nation, that I was going to learn to run, and take part in the 5km MS Walk, Run & Roll event in 2018.

Today, even though I am still living with all the same MS symptoms, I have taken part in several runs over the years. On an annual basis, I participate in MS runs around Australia including the  2018/19 MS Wellness Run (paired with the world famous Gong Ride at Wollongong), the MS Half Marathon at the MS Melbourne Cycle at Flemington, and the MS Walk Run Roll at Albert Park. 

I am currently training to become a personal trainer so I can help others find their new NORMAL and face their own daily challenges.  I am also excited to take on the role of MS Ambassador, sharing my journey with MS via public speaking and inspiring others to challenge their way of thinking about the world around them, saying things like, “I do this BECAUSE I have MS.”

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