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'I immersed myself into MS Ireland and my local branch and to date I have never been so happy'

Ahead of World MS Day on Sunday May 30, Greystones man Mark tells of shock after diagnosis


Mark Mitchell

Mark Mitchell

Mark Mitchell


A Greystones man said he was in total shock when he was diagnosed with MS in 2009.

Mark Mitchell was speaking after of this year's World MS Day which takes place on Sunday, May 30.

The theme for this year's World MS Day on Sunday, May 30, is 'connections'. The MS Connections campaign is all about building community connection self-connection and connections to quality care.

World MS Day is held to raise awareness for people living with Multiple Sclerosis, such as Mark Mitchell from Greystones. While Mark was shocked by his diagnosis over 20 years ago, he has found happiness in working with MS Ireland and The East Wicklow branch.

He is among the 9,000 people in Ireland living with MS who have faced various challenges throughout the pandemic.

MS is the most common debilitating neurological condition affecting young adults in Ireland. It affects the motor, sensory and cognitive functioning of the body and is usually diagnosed between 20 and 40 years of age. The impact of MS on individuals, their families and the community can undermine the resilience that is needed for individuals to remain purposeful and in control of their lives. Three times more women than men are diagnosed with MS. There is no cause or cure.

This year's campaign is about challenging social barriers and stigma that can leave people affected by MS feeling lonely and isolated, Building communities that support and nurture people affected by MS, Promoting self-care and healthy living with MS, Lobbying decision-makers for better services and effective treatment for people with MS. It is an opportunity to advocate for better services, celebrate support networks and champion self-care.

'When I was diagnosed was in a total state of shock,' said Mark, who has been living with MS since 2009. 'I had read about MS and was pretty sure I had it, but I was devastated to be told I had Primary Progressive MS (PPMS) of which there are no drugs or medication. Only 10 per cent of people with MS have PPMS.

'My life has changed immeasurably since my diagnosis. Initially, I was in total shock. I continued working although the fatigue wiped me out for days at a time. I began to lose my voice in 2005 and had to sell my business (A sales and marketing recruitment company) in 2006.

'From 2006 to date has been an amazing journey for me. I served as a director on the board of MS Ireland for three years. I was elected chair of MS Ireland's East Wicklow Branch for several years. I have been involved with numerous fundraising projects with MS Ireland. In short I immersed myself into MS Ireland and my local branch which I have thoroughly enjoyed and to date I have never been so happy.'

Ava Battles, Chief Executive of MS Ireland said: 'World MS Day is the MS movement's annual campaign to raise awareness of the condition and to support and connect the 2.8 million people living with it worldwide, it is a day to celebrate global solidarity and hope for the future. In Ireland, it is a day where we shine a spotlight on the lives of the 9,000 people in Ireland living with MS, some of whose daily lives have been seriously impacted and altered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

'Unfortunately, as a result of the pandemic and restrictions some of these connections that our community heavily rely on may have suffered and in some cases are no longer available,' said Ava.

'Our community have endured cancelled appointments, delayed treatments, and restrictions on our services such as face to face community meet ups which meant they also lost some of the physical and emotional day-to-day support that is invaluable to them. The pandemic made us realise just how important these connections really are.'

World MS Day 2021 is set to be a very different affair to previous years. The international day of awareness and fundraising is met with a whole new set of challenges this year. Now, more than ever the MS community need support and advice.

In light of this, MS Ireland are launching a Virtual Balloon Race where they hope to have 9,000 virtual balloons flying, one for each person in Ireland living with MS. Go to