The times they are a-changin’

Change is inevitable. Change may be a diagnosis of MS, better treatments, research, the way we access information. We are continually adapting to new situations and environments.

Change comes in many forms. Sometimes it is growth. Over the past few months MS Australia has been through some changes with a greater focus on advocacy and better information for people living with MS. I am facing change regularly in my role as CEO at MS Australia. There has been a change to the look of our website in preparation for a redevelopment (stay tuned, we’ll be asking for your feedback soon!)

Sometimes change presents a challenge. When someone is diagnosed with MS for example. This may be marked by confrontation, relief, understanding or anxiety. Many of you will know that a diagnosis of MS changes the lives of all affected. The change is so unique to every individual.

Change can also bring about hope. Changes in the way we research and treat MS bring about better developments and understanding while we work towards the biggest change for people living with MS – a cure. To find out more about MS research projects taking place, visit the MS Research Australia website.

Change can happen in small ways, sometimes we don’t even notice it happening. The way we access information has changed, we have so many resources available at our fingertips and we can connect with people from the MS community all over the world. I am connecting with more people every day through various Social Media platforms (like Twitter and Facebook).

It is exhilarating when change can also mean learning. This week I visited Adelaide and Perth. While in Adelaide I met with MS Society South Australia and Northern Territory CEO Graeme Warnock. In Perth I had the pleasure of meeting with MS Society of Western Australia CEO Marcus Stafford and WA Board President David Barnes. Again, it has been such a positive experience to meet with the societies. I continue to learn the distinct differences between organisations and the services they provide. What doesn’t change is the dedication and passion they have for supporting Australians living with MS.

Debra and MS WA CEO Graeme Warnock standing in front of MS logo

Debra meeting with MS SA & NT CEO Graeme Warnock

Debra is sitting in the centre between David Barnes and Marcus Stafford

From left: MS WA Chair David Barnes, Debra and MS WA CEO Marcus Stafford

So, change can be exciting, challenging, hopeful and necessary. It can bring about feelings of opportunity, anxiety, relief and indifference. Generally, for me, change is always about promise and anticipation. What about you? How do you deal with change? How do you feel about change? Do you take it in your stride, run away or adapt?

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4 Responses to The times they are a-changin’

  1. Since being diagnosed with MS three years ago, I’ve had a radical rethink about the importance of various things in my life. I make more time now for myself, and the things that truly count to me.

    • mssociety says:

      Thanks for sharing Carolyn. A diagnosis of MS can certainly bring about a change in priorities. I think we can all take a leaf out of your book and make more time for ourselves! – DC

  2. Lisa O'Farrell says:

    I’ve always found change exhilarating. Having had 17 homes, lived on three continents and had quite a few jobs – I can’t get enough of it. Bring it on – I love the ‘new’ in new experiences. What’s different about a diagnosis of MS is that it’s a change many of us had not considered, had never planned for. A change nobody could anticipate and given a choice, not one we’d choose. What has changed for me over the last 8 years is my perception of the disease. In the early days, from everything I ever read, my sense was that the disease would bring an inevitable and unstoppable decline over time. That sense that you are on borrowed time, does change how you plan and think about the world. But I was wrong – they were wrong. Happily for me and for many others, I have found that having MS has not actually changed anything significant in my life. And that’s the opposite of my early expectations. I’ve always worked fulltime, I study, I exercise, I travel. It hasn’t stopped me and that is what has changed my perception. I’m also an optimist. Most people don’t know I have MS but the ones who do are surprised. I’m glad I am able to change their perception of what is possible with MS. Now I think of MS as a great white shark – it lurks beneath the surface and every now and then comes up and takes a bite. Fight back or don’t fight back – eventually it will goes away and life will get back to normal. As I sit here I can feel a familiar fatigue in my right leg and some numbness in my left arm. So what. I’m glad I managed to go for a jog early this morning and enjoyed the fresh morning air and listing to the birds striking up a chorus. All those library books and all that information I read 8 years ago, made me feel like that would never be possible at this point down the track. They were wrong. Sometimes the changes you’re not expecting are the ones that frame your life for the better. I don’t know how different my life would be if I didn’t have MS but I’d be happy if it was about the same.

    • mssociety says:

      Thanks Lisa. What a great response. Once again I am blown away by your positive attitude and outlook. Often the way we view change comes down to perception doesn’t it? Or our past experiences. I’m sure you’re not alone in saying that MS has changed the way you view things and like Carolyn, it can make you refocus your priorities.
      I really like what you wrote about change and our control over it. Sometimes we choose to make changes, drastic or otherwise. But often big changes occur which are beyond our control. It sounds like your optimism has seen you through some big changes! Thanks again for your insights Lisa.

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