Skye Hanley was training for a body building event when she realised something wasn’t right with her health. She wasn’t putting on the muscle, or losing the weight, her trainer expected.
An MRI scan found the problem. The then 29-year-old was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) – a disease most commonly diagnosed in people aged between 20 and 40.
The condition affects the central nervous system, interfering with nerve impulses within the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.
There is currently no known cure for MS which can result in a range of symptoms such as fatigue and muscular weakness and spasms. In some cases, the disease can affect people’s mobility, resulting in the need for assistance such as using a wheel chair.
“I was diagnosed three years ago and it was off the back of a few other health concerns,” Ms Hanley, from Sutherland, said.
“It was a backwards piece of luck for me to be diagnosed early. The sooner that you can implement lifestyle changes … the better.”
For the first six months, after diagnosis, Ms Hanley was coming to terms with living with the disease.
She was studying towards a qualification as a nutritionist and had to deal with fatigue, mental fogginess, memory loss, and even some trouble with her vision.
“About 95 per cent of the time I’m good and five per cent of the time I will be suffering different symptoms like fatigue,” she said. “For me, and for a lot of MS sufferers fatigue is the biggest one.”
Ms Hanley said learning to live with the disease was important and a few changes to her lifestyle helped a lot. She said she made sure she set aside time to rest and get plenty of sleep each day.
Ms Hanley has certainly made the most of life while living with the disease. She runs a nutritional medicine clinic in Cronulla, Limitless Health Co, and is also a yoga instructor.
World MS Day is coming up on Wednesday, May 31 and Ms Hanley said she would like to share a message for others diagnosed with the disease.
“I think it helped that quite early on I realised I am still the same weird and wonderful person as before my diagnosis. It does not change that – the condition,” she said.
“So the advice I would give to other people is control the things that you can control and don’t sweat the things that you can’t.”
Ms Hanley said a big thank you to all the people who had supported her over the last three years.
“Although I am the one diagnosed with the disease our partners, families and friends too have to live with life with MS.
“I personally know how grateful I am for their ongoing love and support. Life with MS would be a lot harder without them.”
MS affects over 23,000 people in Australia.