May 12, 2004
Multiple Sclerosis Society
10th May 2004 saw the launch of an exciting new national campaign to raise awareness of the incidence of Multiple Sclerosis in younger people and highlight the many varieties of MS symptoms. The MyShoes Campaign To Fight MS also hopes to harness the power of the love of shoes to raise funds for MS charities.
National shoe retailers feet inc, Hobbs, Office, Robert Clegerie and Shoon have all nominated a MyShoes style and will make a contribution to the new campaign for each pair sold through to the end of August of this year. They will display groovy show cards in their windows and shop and put special leaflets to publicise the campaign in the boxes of all nominated pairs of shoes sold. Throughout the UK, more than 100 shops are participating.
Thanks to new diagnostic techniques, such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), many more people are being diagnosed with MS at a younger age, usually somewhere between 20 and 35.
Being younger brings a new set of challenges for those diagnosed with MS, notes Marla Madison, Madison, the founder of the MyShoes Campaign. "Do they tell their boyfriend or girlfriend? Will they be able to sustain a career or have children?" says Marla.
"The good thing about knowing what's wrong with you earlier is that you do not spend time worrying about all the mysterious feelings and symptoms that often accompany MS. However, the earlier diagnosis does mean you have a longer period in which to worry about the possible implications."
Marla has some idea of what it is like to live with MS. Diagnosed eight years ago at the height of her career in publishing, she has not always been able to work and currently runs the MyShoes Campaign as a volunteer. She was inspired to come up with the idea when she realised that it was just those people who are most interested in fashion and fashionable shoes that are most likely to be diagnosed with MS. MS has a higher prevalence in young women and it can particularly affect their walking.
"All women love shoes", says Marla, "They all seem to be like Cinderella's slipper, imbued with magical qualities. And they are just as varied as MS symptoms, coming in all styles, sizes and colours. Evening shoes, hiking boots and beach sandals are all shoes just as all the various symptoms of MS, as different as they may be, are still MS."
MS symptoms may include visual impairment and cognitive dysfunction. But walking is a function very frequently affected by MS in one way or another.
Those with MS may be totally unable to walk, walk awkwardly, be prone to stumbling and falling over, lose feeling in their lower limbs, suffer from fleeting, chronic or strange and uncomfortable sensations, cramps or pains in the lower limbs. Or they can simply be too fatigued to walk even short distances.
Money raised by the Campaign will go to the two leading UK MS charities, the MS Society and the MS Trust. The two Charities work together on the Specialist MS Nurse programme, which will be supported by the MyShoes Campaign.
"We need specialist MS nurses, especially if you are younger at diagnosis. MS has no cure and affects everything about you. It can come and go or get steadily worse," says Marla. "It is often difficult to get to a neurologist immediately and frankly as they are scientists, they are often more interested in a cure rather than you as an individual. The MS nurse can support you through both the psychological and physical symptoms." There are currently 150 MS Nurses in the UK, but many more are still needed.
The MyShoes Campaign plans to run for many years raising funds for MS. It is hoped these pioneer brands will be the first of many to support the cause. Marla also hopes to raise funds in other ways.
For more information about the MyShoes Campaign please go to: http://www.myshoes.org.uk
For more information about the MS Trust go to: http://www.mstrust.org.uk
Copyright © 2004, Multiple Sclerosis Society