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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Carmel Neeson from Maghera was first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis almost 20 years ago. Married with three young children she found the diagnosis hard to accept. 


When her husband had to work in London for long periods of time and the children were at school Carmel found a sense of loneliness creeping into her life. It was at this time that she heard about "Forza", a local group of people with multiple sclerosis, who along with their friends and helpers from Action MS, were determined to focus on fun and find ways of beating MS. "They called it a focus group", says Carmel, "and very soon I was in the thick of it. The fun and the togetherness was a lifeline and suddenly time passed very quickly and I was having a wonderful time." The sense of freedom was everything to Carmel and looking back she realises that the people around her understood MS.


"It was so easy to be with people who understood and who just wanted to make plans, have a laugh and enjoy their time together," says Carmel. Action MS plans focus group activities around the country including special weekends away. This kind of activity caters for all needs and experience shows that the social circle of those taking part is enhanced and expanded in surprising ways. "We cross new frontiers and reach out to so many new people. It is very motivating and I always look forward to the next adventure. I was amazed to find myself out on the water in a sailing boat on my last trip away," says Carmel. "The focus group breaks offer so much to do and new places to go and all the time you are in good company. The Forza Group has been a godsend." 


Now Carmel enjoys going out to dinner or lunch and the occasional trip to the cinema. Things most of us take for granted. But all these and more are special to Carmel and a far cry from the lonely days when she felt tied down and unable to get out and about. "Forza has been a tremendous change for the better. I want to invite anyone out there with MS who is feeling unsure about getting out and about - come and join us. We welcome all newcomers and look forward to your company. There is lots to do and we have excellent helpers making it all happen," says Carmel.