Steven Van Ruyven
“You’re working too hard, take some days off,” was the advice offered to Steven, a young and successful marketing executive, following numerous visits to the local doctors surgery complaining of 24/7 exhaustion. Frustrated by the lack of logical outcomes, Steven left the last consultation feeling somewhat “disbelieved”, wondering if the health professional’s preliminary diagnosis was that this healthy and fit looking individual was “making it up”?
Steven was a husband and father, enjoying the spoils of a successful corporate career and living a comfortable life. Although the lingering fatigue continued to weigh him down, he continued to push through life as best he could. As the disease progressed, he found that, when he was not working he was sleeping, with little quality of life.
Other disturbing symptoms soon presented: left sided numbness, loss of fine motor skills and now the relentless fatigue was profound. A referral to a neurologist quickly followed with a probable diagnosis of multiple sclerosis within the first five minutes of the consultation during 1996 at the age of 32 and, as a result, an immediate admission to hospital for treatment.
Knowing nothing about the disease apart from the MS Readathon, this young man felt relieved that he no longer needed to classify himself as a hypochondriac and that he could focus on dealing with the condition.
Following treatment, and education around multiple sclerosis, Steven kept working, with the little energy left for anything else. All too soon Steven was forced to make the traumatic decision, to have to take early retirement - at the age of 33.
Leaving the corporate world behind, and feeling like a “fish out of water” this lateral thinking man became a “Mr Mum”. He threw himself into helping his family and the community by volunteering with the local Landcare Group and School Council and learning to carefully manage his particular mutliple sclerosis challenges.
Now with careful and precise fatigue management, Steven is enjoying life and feels there is so much to do – including traveling which he initially thought was only going to exist in his past life. A cycling enthusiast of many years has provided Steven with improved quality of life through this enjoyable pastime and participates in many cycling fundraising events to support MS when he can.
Steven has thrown himself into cycling challenges participating in the 2013 MS Red Ride riding 970km in seven days; completed 7 Peaks Cycling challenge 2013/14 (Cycling up Mt Buller, Mt Baw Baw, Lake Mountain, Mt Hotham from front and back, Falls Creek & Mt Buffalo) and the 2015 Peaks Challenge Falls Creek – riding 235km with 4000m of climbing in one day.
The MS Ambassador Program highly recommends high flying MS Ambassador Steven Van Ruyven who has embraced what life has thrown at him, and now realises life is just too short, as he attempts to make the most of everything that falls his way.
What people have said about Steven's speaking spots:
- "Steven was able to really connect with the group and first hand illustrate the importance of the MS organisation. He was terrific – thank you."