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MSWA Bulletin Magazine Autumn 2021

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Get to know your new President | Resilience: I get knocked down, but I get up again | MSWA’s m contribution to research | 36 years of Bulletin


GET TO KNOW YOUR NEW PRESIDENT Recently, MSWA was pleased to announce Ros Harman as the new President of the Board. To many readers, Ros needs no introduction. As well as having been an MSWA Client for 32 years and a Board member for 16 years, Ros has been a regular and much-loved contributor to Bulletin since 2000. Ros is passionate about writing and public speaking, and many MSWA Clients will have followed her honest and informative articles about living with a neurological condition. Ros’ journey with MSWA began in 1988, just after her 26th birthday, when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. After noticing herself feeling uncoordinated and clumsy when playing basketball and walking to the high school where she worked as an English teacher, Ros found herself in a neurologist’s clinic. MRI machines had just been made available as a diagnostic tool for MS, and Ros was one of the first people in Perth to be scanned for MS lesions. “The diagnosis was a big shock,” says Ros. “I didn’t really know what MS was, but my neurologist recommended I contact the MS Society immediately, which I did.” One of the first people she met at the MS Society (now of course known as MSWA) was Greg Brotherson, a name many readers will also be familiar with, having been editor of this magazine for 36 years. “He found out I was an English teacher and encouraged me to start writing articles for Bulletin,” says Ros. (Her first contribution to Bulletin is pictured right). At this time in her life, Ros was married, with no children, but having a baby was very much on her agenda. She read everything she could about the subject and decided to go ahead. Her daughter Eleni’s birth went well. “I relied on the support of the MS Society a lot at this time,” she recalls. “Because I had relapsing-remitting MS to start with, each bout would see me end up in hospital on intravenous high-dose steroids. There was no other medication available yet.” When the MSWA Board were looking for nominations in 2004, Greg Brotherson put Ros’ name forward. “Becoming a Board member enabled me to learn a lot about the work MSWA does. I’ve seen the organisation grow and change over the years – to now supporting all neurological conditions, and building many new facilities. “I’ve stood by and admired how MSWA has kept going strong at times when a lot of other organisations have struggled. This, of course, is largely due to Marcus being at the helm.” Of course, Ros’ passion and insight are informed by the fact that she herself is an MSWA Client. “My ability to stay independent is largely due to MSWA,” she explains. “I attend regular physiotherapy and I have had invaluable advice from the OTs and nurses over the years. I drive using hand controls, and my car has a wheelchair hoist. When I built my house, I had input from the OTs, so my bathroom is fabulous! I’m a big believer in grab rails. The more the better!” Now, as President of the Board, Ros’ ambition is to help the organisation continue the good work of building new facilities, supporting people who need help, providing services, and supporting research. “We have plans to build more facilities. I think that’s an important focus – there are lots of people out there with neurological conditions who will need care and support in the future. We are lucky to be in the financial position to do that, thanks to the generosity of the people who support our fundraising activities like the lottery campaigns and events. 16

“Of course, we will also be continuing to support research as much as possible. The right treatment can make such a difference. When I was diagnosed, there was no medication, only steroids. It’s only since the late 1990s that medication was introduced for MS that really made a difference to newly diagnosed people. I suspect if they were around when I was diagnosed, I’d still be walking. “I’m following with interest the research projects MSWA is currently funding in WA that will have implications for MND, brain injury, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and stroke.” Ros is also passionate about MSWA’s contribution to international research. “It’s so important for the global community to work together to find solutions.” Left: MS Bulletin, July 2000, pp13-14. 17