Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Running for a cause

Finding out you’re diagnosed with a life-altering disease is difficult at whatever age but for 15-year-old Stuart Rose, it was an added strain to adolescent life. The Scotsman had to deal with the side-effects of medication whilst taking his exams.

But six years later and Stuart is living life to the full and using his plight as a motivation to help others. Not content with letting Multiple Sclerosis rule his life, Stuart will be taking on the Loch Ness Marathon this October.

How did your friends/family react during the time of diagnosis?
Stuart said: “When I was diagnosed my family and friends were understandably upset. I guess when I was diagnosed I didn’t know too much about MS apart from knowing that my auntie had been diagnosed with it. Many people were surprised as I was only 15 years old when I was diagnosed which is unusually young to have this disease. The support and kindness from my family and friends was very important to me and helped me to try and get on with my life as best that I could.”

Multiple Sclerosis is the most common disabling neurological condition affecting young adults, with diagnosis generally between the ages of 20 and 40.

MS is the result of damage to the myelin - a protective sheath surrounding nerve fibres of the central nervous system. When myelin is damaged this interferes with messages from the brain and other parts of the body. There is currently no cure for MS. For some people, MS is characterised by periods of relapse and remission while for others it has a progressive pattern.

For everyone, it makes life unpredictable.

What type/form of MS do you have (if you know yet)?
Stuart said: “I was originally diagnosed with relapsing/remitting MS but last year was told my MS was now highly active relapsing/remitting MS. I had several relapses in about a year and I was given another MRI scan and, unfortunately, the results showed evidence of new MS activity. As I now have ‘highly active’ MS I qualify for a treatment (‘Tysabri’) which I receive once a month, by infusion at the hospital.”

When was your last 'attack' and how does it make you feel?
Stuart said: “My last relapse was in August 2010. This resulted in numbness to the left side of my body – leg, arm, hand which also affected my balance and co-ordination. I spent the night in hospital and was given a course of a three day treatment of steroids which helped clear my symptoms up after about a week. My other relapses have mainly been numbness (particularly to my left side) with one of my first also being an attack which gave me double vision for about 10 days which was extremely worrying.”

When you run what spurs you on through bad weather conditions and knee injuries?
Stuart said: “I think what motivates me is the thought of helping others. Every training run I go on, no matter how hard, I try and remember why I am doing this and who I am doing this for.

“The feeling that I am doing something to try and improve peoples lives is a massive motivation for me.

“There have certainly been runs which are very tough and I have felt that I cannot do more but I just keep doing what I have been doing – trying my best to achieve my goal. Also, one of my main symptoms that I find with MS is that it affects my mood but I feel that getting out for a run can sometimes help to lift it.”

How often are you training? How many miles etc?
Stuart said: “I began training in January and it was very difficult with persistent interruption due to wintry weather and also after four weeks of training I had problems with my knees. I found that due to my knee injury I could only run once a week instead of the intended four.”

When Stuart signed up for the Marathon he was also registered for the Inverness Half Marathon in March. After seven weeks of training he took part in the half-marathon just three months ago.

He said: “It was a real challenge. The weather on the day was terrible; there was snow, freezing rain and strong winds throughout. This was not helped by my knee problem recurring before I was even three miles into the run. However, I persevered and completed the half marathon in a time of two hours 20 minutes.

“After the Half Marathon I decided to take a break for a few weeks (to give the knees a rest!) and have recently got out my running shoes again. My weekly mileage ranges from 15 miles to 39 miles.”

Are you currently working or a student? What are your ambitions?
Stuart said: “I am currently working as a Learning Support Auxiliary in a secondary school in Inverness. I have worked at the school for nearly two years now and I am finding it extremely enjoyable and rewarding. I am also studying an honours degree in Psychology with the Open University; however I am taking a break from this to concentrate on my running and fundraising. I will continue with my studies after the marathon in October. In the future I would like to go into teaching.”

What piece of advice would you offer to anyone whose newly diagnosed with MS?
Stuart said: “I would say the most important advice would simply be – do not worry. You are still you. You are still the same person you were before you were diagnosed. I would research the type of MS you have and also research the different options of treatments to help manage MS. In addition to this, I feel it is also very important to surround yourself with supportive family, friends or work colleagues. I know from experience you may feel like you just want to try and shut people out and ‘deal with it’ alone but try find a way to take care of yourself and just relax and know that you have many people in your life who care for you.”

21-year-old Stuart wants to raise as much money as possible for MS Society Scotland. He said: “The MS Society Scotland depends entirely on charitable fundraising and the support of the public and volunteers to be able to do their fantastic work.”

To support Stuart’s Marathon challenge visit

1 comment:

  1. Very, very proud of you Stu. As your Mum I would have done anything to spare you from this dreadful disease - but life has dealt you with this very cruel blow and I feel powerless to help. However, you have not allowed it to take over your life, you have not decided to wallow in self pity - instead you have decided to meet it head on and get out there and make it work for the benefit of others. I know you are anxious about the Loch Ness marathon, and that you are concerned as to whether your health will allow you to complete it, but you must remember that you can only do your best. Everyone is behind you. Your family and friends, and all your sponsors (many of whom you have never met), will be only to pleased to contribute to your fundraising effort regardless of the distance you run. The MS Society needs all the support it can get and you deserve all the support from us too. Bless you. xx
    If anyone who is reading this has not yet sponsored my very brave son, please please do so. The money he raises may directly benefit a member of YOUR family in the future, I hope not... but I never expected this to happen to MY son either. Thank you.