MS: More support
By IAN THOMSON
TWO Clarence Valley sisters, both suffering from multiple sclerosis, have set up a support group for carers and other sufferers of the incurable disease.
Maree Burrows and Janny Brown saw the need for a support group while running a raffle during Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week last year.
"We were overwhelmed by the number of people who approached us seeking information about the disease," Maree said.
"What we found very emotional was when two young women, one of them a teenager, told us they were caring for an MS sufferer, but didn't know anything about the dis- ease. It was obvious the incidence of multiple sclerosis in the Valley was much higher than we thought, particularly in the Lower River area, where there are about 15 cases we know of."
The number of people looking for advice convinced Maree and Janny that something had to be done as far as a support group was concerned.
Multiple sclerosis, or MS, attacks the body's nervous system, short-circuiting messages from the brain to the rest of the body.
Maree Burrows said it was best described when you imagine an electrical cord as the nervous system running through your body.
"The covering comes off that cord in places and the electricity can't get through," she said.
During relapses, MS sufferers have trouble walking, lose vision and can't speak properly.
"You'd swear we were drunk," Maree said.
"But the worst thing with MS is the fatigue.
"Even after nine hours sleep, sufferers are still tired every minute of the day."
Maree Burrows was diagnosed with MS in 1997 after an ear infection failed to clear up.
She underwent a CAT scan, which revealed the disease.
"Diagnostic procedures like an MRI can pick MS up very quickly these days," she said.
The MS support group Maree runs with her sister is gaining in mumbers.
Sufferers and carers meet once a month. Details from Maree Burrows on 66421640.