Society problems

Father-of-two Peterlee to feature in BBC’s MS Society TV appeal

A 53-year-old man from Peterlee will speak about the impact MS Society-funded research has had on him this weekend, when he is featured in a BBC Lifeline Appeal for the charity.

Stuart Wood has lived with MS since the age of 27. He says he knew something was wrong because he was walking badly. Now he has severe pain in his legs and arms and there is also very bad numbness. On one of his hands, his fingers are curled up and he has severe cramps. He says it can be a real struggle in everyday life as sometimes the right side of his body is totally lifeless.

This Sunday, Stuart and his family, wife Sharon and daughters Lucy and Katie will take part in a BBC One televised appeal to help raise awareness of MS and support the vital work of the MS Society.

Stuart says he has bladder problems because of his MS: “It’s a real hassle and I’ve had a lot of accidents with it. The symptoms appear regularly and when I have to go, I have to go now. It got to the point where it was a major problem and I was afraid to get out and go to the bathroom in time.

But then Stuart discovered a treatment that might help, the first trials were funded by the MS Society. He says, “I found out about Botox injections for MS on the MS Society website. Luckily, thanks to research funded by the charity, I am now going to hospital to have Botox injections into my bladder. I go there every six months for that, an operation in the operating room. It’s 20 injections in my bladder and it has helped me improve my quality of life considerably. It has helped my family when we go out anywhere. It affected me dramatically, mentally, and that’s a very, very good thing.

Over 130,000 people live with MS in the UK. MS damages the nerves in your body and makes it harder to do everyday activities like walking, talking, eating and thinking. The MS Society’s BBC Lifeline Appeal focuses on research funded by the charity as well as the support it provides through its MS Helpline and local groups across the UK.

Stuart appears alongside his wife Sharon and daughter Lucy, who is 18. When Lucy was just five years old, the family received the devastating news that she also had MS. They say the diagnosis “hit us like a ton of bricks.” She is now undergoing treatment and doing well, although she suffers from severe fatigue and partial vision due to MS symptoms as a child.

Stuart says, “If the MS Society didn’t fund research into drugs, Botox and more, we wouldn’t be where we are today. As parents, we know that MS will eventually stop. We need to have faith and trust in the science behind it all. Without her, we would be lost, especially our family.

Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge presents the appeal for the MS Society. He knows the impact multiple sclerosis can have. His father was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when he was six years old and sadly passed away when Tom was just 18.

Tom says, “My dad had MS and I have seen firsthand how it can not only affect the person with the disease, but also have a big impact on family and friends. So I am very happy to be a part of any form of help or recognition for MS understanding and awareness.

“He lived with MS for over ten years and gradually it got worse. He went from using a walking stick to using a wheelchair and then being bedridden. This greatly affected his ability to communicate and he needed constant care, possibly in a home, before he died in his mid-40s.

“Please watch and share the BBC Lifeline appeal! This condition is huge, many people live with it on a daily basis. The support and understanding this appeal will generate for how it affects people, the awareness it raises , will make a big difference in many lives.

Dr Sarah Rawlings is Executive Director of Research and External Affairs at the MS Society: “MS is relentless, painful and debilitating. Our BBC Lifeline Appeal will help us raise awareness and raise much needed funds. We hope this will also encourage more people to contact us and use our services.

The MS Society’s Lifeline Appeal will air this Sunday, June 26 at 1.50pm on BBC One. It will then be available to watch online for three weeks on BBC One – Lifeline, MS Society