Mother plans Mexico trip for pioneering treatment to help her lifelong MS battle
A determined mother who has lived with multiple sclerosis almost all her life is travelling to Mexico for specialist treatment which she hopes will bring a halt to the disease.
Jolene Masson, 39, was diagnosed when she was seven, at a time when MS in children was “unheard of”.
After several months of research she has decided to travel to Central America to undergo the aggressive treatment, which involves a course of chemotherapy to help boost her quality of life and costs more than £40,000.
Jolene admits the road ahead will be both “an emotional and physical roller coaster” as well as there being risks involved.
But she said: “It’s a risk I’m willing to take for me and my family.
“If there’s any sort of reversal that would be fantastic.”
The Lerwick woman has battled with relapsing remitting MS for more than 30 years.
As a child, doctors initially thought Jolene had a brain tumour as she had problems with her balance.
Jolene’s mother Eileen said they realised something was wrong when her daughter was learning to write.
“She was learning to join her letters at school and she couldn’t keep on the lines,” she said.
“I kept saying to my husband, ‘this isn’t just a bairn trying to join up letters’.”
As a youngster Jolene suffered fatigue, though teachers didn’t know what was wrong.
“At school I remember being so tired that I would put my head on the desk and wiggle my pen to look like I was working,” she said.
“The teachers didn’t understand that and just thought I was being lazy.”
Jolene said the unpredictably of her condition was one of the hardest things to deal with. When she was growing up, MS could strike at any time.
“I lost the power of my walking and my writing and everything was affected. That would go on for two or three days at a time or two or three weeks. There was no warning.
“I might not be able to get up in the morning, I might not be able to raise my arms above my head… for me a lot of the symptoms I found hard to describe.”
Eileen added: “When she was young she used to describe it like the TV when the picture went off and it was all fuzzy.
“I often walked with a limp and I would be dragging my leg,” Jolene said.
As well as physical problems MS has also affected her eyesight, making it hard to focus, as well affecting her memory and ability to concentrate.
Though from her appearance Jolene said a lot of folk could see nothing wrong.
• For more see this week’s Shetland Times