Diagnosed at only 19 years old, it was difficult for Rania to come to terms with her new ‘normal’ life. Waking up in pain and going to bed in pain, multiple sclerosis has taken her to the darkest points in her life. After losing feeling in her left arm, left leg and suffering injury from two big falls, it is a constant battle to keep herself healthy and out of a wheelchair.
For a long time, Rania found it difficult to cope and be open about her struggles. Now 28 years old, with the support of family, friends and MS Australia (the preeminent source of information, advice and services for people living with multiple sclerosis), she is tackling her illness head on. She has even become an MS ambassador in the hopes of raising awareness and educating others about the invisible illness.
If it wasn’t for the support of Rania’s family and friends, she wouldn’t be coping so well with multiple sclerosis. With her older sister also being diagnosed with the same disease, her family is very familiar with the struggles that people living with multiple sclerosis face. Their understanding is what gives her comfort when she is at her most unwell. Rania fights everyday so that she doesn’t have to see her parents, siblings and husband worry. It was only two years ago that life got easier, when she discovered the support available from MS.
“They sent me an occupational therapist and set me up with a home office so when I can’t get out of the house I can work from home,” says Rania.
“They have set up fortnightly myotherapy sessions to keep my stiff muscles moving, and a personal trainer to keep strengthening my limbs. Most of all, we have a monthly face-to-face check in, which I always look forward to. This journey is tough and it is so comforting to have someone to talk to who knows and understands what I’m going through.”
Realising how much support can help, Rania was inspired to share her journey to help others also struggling with their own experiences. She began writing a blog and posting about living with multiple sclerosis on her social media pages. Overwhelmed with messages and questions on Instagram, she realised how much easier life would have been for her if she had this support network when she was diagnosed as a teenager. She decided to apply to become an official MS ambassador, with a focus on supporting people diagnosed at a young age.
“In 2018, more Australians are being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis than ever before,” said Rania Melhem. “Four people are diagnosed every working day, and often they are young adults who are just launching their career or planning a family¹.
“With no known cause or cure, we must continue to raise funds to aid the research that may give us a brighter future, and have less to be afraid about. I would love to see the day where all MS warriors don’t have to struggle anymore, and the people we love can stop worrying about us.”
Rania is a regular supporter at MS events including the MS Walk + Fun Run. Every year she gets together with family and friends to participate in the event, and looks forward to crossing the finish line with other MS supporters.
Each year thousands of Australians get together to support the multiple sclerosis community. Almost 12,000 people take part across Australia every year, raising millions of dollars.
“Every year I cry at the finish line! Seeing how many people across Melbourne have turned up to support the cause makes my heart so happy. It gives me so much hope that with the money raised more lives can be changed. I can’t wait to take part and see the support for this year’s MS Walk + Fun Run,” said Raina.
This year the MS Walk + Fun Run is a festival of ‘Health and Wellbeing,’ celebrating people living well with MS, and supporters who live and adopt healthy habits for the cause. The carefully curated day out is not just a fun run, but a day abuzz with community spirit, love and support that guarantees wonderful memories to look back on.
In line with this year’s MS Walk + Fun Run theme of ‘Health and Wellbeing,’ Rania is an advocate for living healthy through a well-balanced diet and practicing meditative yoga. She is a big believer in natural healing and the importance of emotional wellbeing. She shares her experience with multiple sclerosis and living healthy online on her blog and Instagram @missanonyms.
The Melbourne MS Walk + Fun Run will be held on Sunday June 3rd, from 9am at Albert Park Lake, VIC 3206. Registration for the Melbourne 2018 MS Walk +Fun Run is open online now. Entry fees are $60 for adults and $40 for children. People living with MS receive free entry. For more information visit www.mswalk.org.au.