June 6, 2012
Twelve years ago Kingaroy woman Josie Potter suddenly lost the use of her legs and her left arm. The symptoms grew worse over a period of just six hours. She couldn’t swallow and she lost her eyesight …
At first, she was told her she had suffered a stroke but her doctor didn’t believe the diagnosis and Josie was sent away for more tests. When these came back, she learned she had multiple sclerosis (MS).
MS is truly a “mystery syndrome”. It’s a disease of the central nervous system but no one really knows what causes it. Symptoms vary from person to person, and from time to time in the same person.
Josie had no family history of the disease (patients rarely do), and had been perfectly healthy up to that point. However she fitted two of the most common criteria: she was aged in her early 30s, and she was a woman.
Fortunately she recovered from that initial attack and is now in the “relapsing remitting” stage of the illness; but the disease is progressive and there is no known cure … yet.
But Josie has not allowed MS to slow her down.
In fact, Josie and her “Kingaroy Cruisers” team of 15 riders are in training for a 25km pushbike marathon, part of the Brissie to the Bay fundraiser for MS which will be held in Brisbane on Sunday, June 24.
Not bad for a woman who couldn’t walk in September 2000!
Brissie to the Bay consists of four different courses, a 10km, 25km, 50km and 100km ride, all starting at Musgrave Park.
This is the second year that the Kingaroy Cruisers have taken taken part. Some of the others riders have also been touched with MS; one has a cousin with the disease, and another’s mother has just been diagnosed. Others are just doing it to support Josie and help a good cause.
Last year Josie rode the 10km course; this time around she’s pushed that out to 25km, and she hasn’t written off the idea that next year, she’ll try for the 50km course.
She finds the training has been helping her.
“The riding has helped me overcome my mobility issues a great deal and has also assisted with other health issues,” Josie said.
Brissie to the Bay is expected to attract more than 4500 entrants this year; a long journey from its humble beginnings in 1991 when it had just 80 riders. And the organisers hope to raise $700,000 to help people living with MS.
Last year Josie raised an amazing $4500 for the event, however this year, her fund-raising – and training – have been seriously affected by her illness.
She started training at Christmas but in March had surgery for an MS-related problem and was out of action, and off the bike, for six weeks.
But she’s back in the saddle now and eager to go!