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Photographer and man with MS in a rugby wheelchair on photoshoot

“It was scary before the diagnosis. You want a reason why this is happening to you… I was really pleased to get a diagnosis; I knew what was wrong with me… I just thought, ‘okay, I can move on now’” says Becky who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 2009. As a self-employed entrepreneur, Becky says More to uS has shown her she can be proud of what I've achieved. 

More to uS is a national UK campaign, celebrating the individual achievements of people living with MS and highlighting how they have overcome challenges related to their condition to accomplish their personal goals. It was developed by Novartis UK in collaboration with members of the MS community. 

By showcasing the achievements of those living with MS, More to uS aims to redefine the perception of MS by challenging the stigma of disability and proving that MS shouldn’t hold you back from chasing your goals. 

More to uS changes the conversation around MS progression by speaking openly about progression in all types and phases of MS. It empowers people with MS to have better and more informative conversations with their healthcare professionals about the physical, cognitive, visible and invisible changes that might indicate that their MS is progressing. 

More to uS tells the true stories of nine remarkable people, all living with MS, through their own words and portraits. They are:

Shana – The constant gardener 

“As my MS progressed and I became more and more disabled, I had to change how I gardened. Instead of having things in flower beds, I moved them into pots and baskets so I can reach them...I don’t have a garden, but I’ve taken over the car park, which is lovely because it’s not just me that gets to enjoy all the colour and flowers, it’s everybody.”

Ramiro – The fun-loving engineer 

“I was 20 when I was diagnosed with MS. That’s when I had a really bad relapse where I couldn’t walk for, like, eight months. But I’m a practical person, and I like to deal with things as they come. So when it came along I just said, what can I do to improve myself and help myself?...I still do everything that most people say you shouldn’t be doing. And I still do it because I don’t see MS as a restriction. I don’t want it to be.”

Lesley – The golfer 

“I’d started to play golf before I got diagnosed, and I played very badly. After my diagnosis, I searched for disabled golf, and the rest is history. It’s been the best thing I’ve done. It gives me something to focus on, and it’s a great circle of friends. I haven’t improved, but that’s almost irrelevant. I just love being out there and playing.”

Becky – The entrepreneur 

“I’m self-employed. I started my business back in 2011 making notebooks....I try not to focus on thinking, ‘one day I’m going to be in a wheelchair’ or ‘one day I’m going to have to use a walking stick’ or anything like that. If I have to use a walking stick, then I will. Until then, I’ll just carry on. My approach is, ‘what can I do to make my future better?’”

Gavin – The devoted dad

“I’d always wanted to be a dad. I wanted to prove that just because I have MS, it doesn’t stop me…, I just have to rethink how I achieve it…I’d say MS doesn’t have to stop you from doing anything, but it can stop you believing in yourself. More to uS is about not being afraid to show everyone ’yeah, this is me’. It’s about showing the world that even if you’ve got this thing called MS, that doesn’t detract from the person you are.”

Mark – The rugby player 

“I play wheelchair rugby and I'm playing against a lot of people who are stronger and faster than me... they are beefcakes racing around, and I've got a progressive illness, but I'm motivated to try and catch up. I never will catch up, but I'm less slow than I was and that's wonderful…I don't want to be seen as that bloke in a wheelchair. I’m a dad, a husband, a friend, a campaigner. And a middle-aged rugby player!”

Stuart and Lucy – The family unit 

“We support each other as a family, and we've got really good friends who support us too. We've got the family slogan: that we look at life with the glass half full, rather than half empty, and it’s true. If you're not happy with yourself, you're not happy.”

Hannah – The fine art photographer and campaign photographer

“Photography really helps me forget about my MS – it's liberating. It was part of my life before MS, and it's always been the medium that best enables me to express myself…Throughout this project I’ve seen such positivity in the people I’ve photographed… It’s been clear to me that everyone involved in the project is able to turn their situation on its head and see things with a slightly different lens – if you pardon the pun.”

To view their portraits, watch their videos and read their stories, visit the campaign on the UK’s Living Like You website, www.livinglikeyou.co.uk/More-to-uS

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