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Raising the profile of MS sufferers in Paphos

It was heartfelt personal experience with multiple sclerosis (MS) that moved Jane MacCauley to make efforts to raise awareness about the condition in Paphos.

MacCauley’s adult son was diagnosed with MS three years ago. It has turned him rapidly from being an athlete with a black belt in Karate to being wheelchair-bound and in need of round-the-clock nursing care.

“It’s a horrible, horrible illness,” MacCauley told the Cyprus Weekly. “Often it’s hard for the family to cope and it’s very frustrating for the sufferer. I want people to know about what help is available for support. No two sufferers are the same. Some people suffer very severely while others only have a slight condition.”

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. MS affects around 2.5 million people worldwide. In Cyprus, the Cyprus Multiple Sclerosis Association says the number of sufferers connected to its programmes is around 2,000. The full figure of sufferers, including those who are not associated with the body, is likely higher.

Debilitating illness
Most people are diagnosed with MS between the ages of 20 and 40 but younger and older people can also be affected. The illness is different for everyone and ascertaining what are MS symptoms and what are not is straightforward. They can include fatigue, vision problems and difficulties with motor skills. Treatments include medicine, exercise and physiotherapy, diet and alternative therapies.

Each year in May, the MS International Federation organises World MS Day to bring the global community together to share stories, raise awareness and campaign with and for everyone affected by multiple sclerosis. This year, it takes place on May 25.

Although the Cyprus Multiple Sclerosis Association cannot provide accurate an exact figure for the number of sufferers in the region, it is estimated at being significant for the population. For this reason, MacCauley recently held a coffee morning to bring the illness to the fore in Paphos. Her goals were to raise money for the Cyprus Multiple Sclerosis Association, lift stigmas sometimes associated with the illness and spread word about help that is available for sufferers and their carers.

“I’ve heard that in Cyprus there is some stigma linked to the illness. My son has been over here and I can’t say I have experienced this with him. People were very sensitive but I understand this isn’t always the case,” she said. “I want to help sufferers and their families to not be ashamed and to reach out for help.”
The coffee morning, held at MacCauley’s home, attracted a small group of supporters and raised €420 for the Cyprus Multiple Sclerosis Association.

Lifting stigmas
The Cyprus Multiple Sclerosis Association is a voluntary organisation established in 1986. It is managed by a board consisting of friends, patients and association members who volunteer their services to promote the group’s objectives. The main goal is to help and support people with MS and their families by providing services through various programmes. The association holds regular events that inform the public about the latest updates on MS and how to deal with the illness. In Paphos, such happenings occur every three to four months. While the association’s language is Greek, a spokesperson told the Cyprus Weekly that they can make efforts to assist English speakers as well.

“MS is a terminal illness but I don’t think people really know what it is,” MacCauley said. “They hear the word cancer and they get scared but a lot of cancers are treatable if you get them early enough. You can’t treat MS. Nothing can be done. It’s a sad illness.”

For more information (in Greek) about the services offered by the Cyprus Multiple Sclerosis Association, go to: or phone 22 590 949/ 25 573 661. Annual membership is €20.

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by IN-CYPRUS
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length

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