Hastings ex-teacher talks about life with MS

Ashley Angell was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2007 but is now finding purpose through charity work SUS-160428-061459001
Ashley Angell was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2007 but is now finding purpose through charity work SUS-160428-061459001

A Hastings mother whose life fell apart when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) is back on her feet and finding purpose in helping others.

Ashley Angell lost her job, her husband and her mobility after being told she had MS nine years ago but as part as MS Awareness Week, she told the Observer how she has turned her life around.

The 49-year-old mother developed numbness in her body in 2007 and five days later, she had lost all feeling from the waist down.

Ashley hoped the numbness was due to a severe trapped nerve, and it was a nervous three month wait until she got her diagnosis.

“I never thought it could be MS, you just don’t ever think something like that will happen to you, it happens to other people,” she said.

After her diagnosis, Ashley found it difficult to adjust to the changes in her life.

“I had to give up the new job that I was very excited about, in fact, I had to give up teaching full stop, which was a career that I loved,” she said.

“Shortly after, my sister died, as did my partner’s father, it was a very difficult year.

“My relationship with my husband eventually broke down due to my condition, and my daughter struggled to understand my illness.”

The introduction of new solutions for the management of MS has helped Ashley to experience less-debilitating symptoms, and has given her hope.

“I am optimistic about the future – thankfully I regained feeling in my legs once my symptoms became under control,” she said.

“I started a new treatment last year and haven’t had a relapse since.

“Before this I was having two or three relapses per year.

“I feel better, not like a ‘normal’ person, but better.”

Ashley feels it is very important to be proactive in how people with MS manage their condition, and volunteers to help others.

“After struggling for a long time, I decided there was no way I was ending up in a wheelchair, I will do whatever it takes to avoid that – I never want to say ‘if only I had done more’, I don’t want regrets,” she said.

“MS has certainly slowed me down, but it won’t stop me.”

Ashley is working with the 1MSg campaign, funded by Biogen and developed alongside clinical experts, which encourages people with MS to regularly engage with specialist services to have a better quality of life. To find out more about the campaign, visit: www.1msg.co.uk.

Ashley is chairman of an MS charity and enjoys helping others to come to terms with the condition, in the same way she had to.

“Once I felt better, I started getting involved with local MS groups – writing the newsletters, arranging social events, and organising MS-friendly exercise groups,” she said.

“I now manage the charity as chairman.

“I feel I have a duty to help others who may not be as empowered as me and I particularly feel it’s important for the many young people being diagnosed to know what support is available to them, so that they can live fulfilled lives with MS.”

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