Mayor out to deliver inspiration
SOME of them struggle to talk - others have vision problems or need crutches to walk.
While the cause of multiple sclerosis is still a mystery, the symptoms can be quite obvious and can permanently change the lives of those unlucky enough to suffer the neurological disease.
Despite the sometimes overwhelming downsides, there was an overall positive feeling among the 20 or so sufferers who gathered in Ipswich yesterday to mark World MS Day.
Much of that outlook was due to the presence of Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale, whose insistence on not letting the condition prevent him from living life has been a source of inspiration for many.
Visitors such as John Petersen came from as far away as Rockhampton to meet Cr Pisasale.
"I was diagnosed with MS in about 2003 - they told me that there was no treatment - that there was nothing they could do," he said.
The diagnosis had a life-changing effect on Mr Petersen, who had to sell his business and move house.
While it's a story Cr Pisasale can personally relate to, he urged fellow MS sufferers not to give in to the disease.
He became involved in organising yesterday's meeting at Brookwater Golf Club following an excellent response to calls for inspirational stories from sufferers in the quarterly MS Life magazine.
"MS is a difficult thing for people to deal with - even though they don't always show it," he said.
Gold Coast resident Gail Harbott said MS was a blessing in disguise for her, as it resulted in her receiving an assistance dog which has become her best pal.
"Echo" the golden retriever is able to load the washing, put on and take off her shoes and socks and pay money for items over the counter.
"It has changed my life but I'm very independent and I have tried to do what I can to the best of my ability," she said.
Still a mystery
The cause of multiple sclerosis is not known and their is no cure.
More than 20,000 Australians have the disease.
Most sufferers are diagnosed as young adults.