World MS Day – Creating Connections

Inspire Blog |

Nerve pain, fatigue and balance problems are some of the challenges Kelly Pearce faces as part of managing Multiple Sclerosis (MS). In just one year of exercising at the Wellness Hub she’s been able to rebuild her strength and confidence and is now able to walk unaided.  

Kelly’s neurological symptoms began back in 2013, when as well as her mobility, her speech, memory and sleep all became affected. Kelly said:

“When it first started, I had numbness in my left side and then one morning I woke up and thought I was having a stroke. My partner took me to the hospital and then later MRI scans were showing lesions on my brain. After a lumbar puncture, I was diagnosed with MS by a neurologist at Sheffield in 2017.

“Every day is different. I can’t say if it’s going to be good or bad, often it depends on what I’ve been doing. A stressful situation can send my body into shock and start me uncontrollably shaking, which can affect me for the rest of the day.”

In May 2021, Kelly joined us via Active Forever after being referred via Thrive NEL, a social prescribing programme offering support accessing local services. Since joining, she’s become close friends with fellow members Sonny, Carmen and Sandra, who she now exercises with daily. Kelly said:

“I come here every day at 8 o’clock in the morning to build routine into my life. In the mornings it takes me ages to get out of bed and get up, washed and dressed. My brain is saying “let’s get up!”, but my body can’t do it. It sometimes takes me 15 minutes before I can stand."

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I was walking with two sticks when I first joined, but within five months I ditched them and was walking on my own. I had a bit of a wobble at first, but I carried on and soldiered through.

Kelly Pearce

“Without the support of Ian and Kieran in the Wellness Hub and Carmen, Sonny and Sandra I don’t think I would have done it, but I kept coming every day because they were always saying “Come on! You can do it!”. I still have my struggles in the mornings when my partner helps me out of bed, but I’ve done it - I can walk again!” Kelly said.

Outside of the Health & Wellbeing Centre, Kelly, Sonny, Carmen and Sandra all keep in contact and meet up regularly for a coffee, lunch or any excuse to get together.

Sonny said: “We all look out for each other and we’re always at the end of the phone. It’s nice to be able to say: “I’m fed up, do you fancy a video chat?”, we’ve built up that kind of rapport with each other. I’m on my own, so for me, the Wellness Hub is my family.”

Kelly added: "The Wellness Hub has helped to build my strength, improve my quality of life and connect me with good friends. I have more confidence now too. I’m starting to walk further - I try to walk at weekends and keep on the go."

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Kelly is an inspiration! She’s made amazing progress and is a role model for anyone dealing with similar challenges. To be able to walk on her own after just five months is incredible. Hopefully her story will inspire others and show there is always hope.

Ian Shorley-Harlow Health Improvement Co-ordinator

World MS Day is led by the MS International Federation (MSIF) and takes place on 30th May each year. It brings the global MS community together to share stories and raise awareness.

MS is one of the most common diseases of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). Today, 2.8 million people around the world have the disease. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40, and it is between two to three times more common in women than in men. To find out more about MS, visit the MSIF website.

View more information about Thrive NEL or Active Forever.