Hemel Hempstead man shares his experience to raise awareness of multiple sclerosis

The 'More to uS' campaign aims to inspire and help people living with MS

Thursday, 27th August 2020, 3:38 pm

A man from Hemel Hempstead is proud to be part of a campaign that highlights how people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) have overcome challenges to achieve their goals.

Gavin Lehmann-Gant, 36, is part of the 'More to uS' movement, which aims to empower people with the condition to have more informative conversations with their healthcare professionals about the physical, cognitive, visible and invisible changes that might indicate that their MS is progressing.

It also aims to provide practical advice for people living with the condition, and inspire people to realise their dreams via a virtual photography exhibition.

Gavin

Gavin, who is living with MS, is one of the people featured in the exhibition.

He said: "Most people can't predict what's going to happen each day, and the same is true with MS.

"With both you have to adapt to the situation you’re in, and that can be empowering, but it can also be downright scary.

"With the unpredictability of MS you have this strength. You think “well, I'm going to end up in a wheelchair or end up with all these symptoms”, but it’s a surprise is how much you can still do.

Just because someone says “oh he can't do that”, doesn't mean you can’t do it. You just need to rethink how you reach the end goal.

"I remember when I was first diagnosed with MS. Because I was 23 I remember thinking 'isn't MS something old people get?'

"I am 35 now and if you'd said to me at 23 I would be using an electric wheelchair by the time I was 30, I don't think I'd have believed you. I knew progression could be quite rapid, but you don't believe it's going to be the case for you.

"But when started using my electric wheelchair, it was frankly a little easier for me. I was whizzing about, and trying not to run people over, rather than struggling in my manual wheelchair without much strength in one of my arms."

Gavin, who is a father to a three-year-old daughter, hopes the campaign will help others.

He said: "The campaign is about inspiring people.

"When you are first diagnosed it can be really scary and you think the worst but actually you can still do achieve a lot.

"The campaign shares people's stories who have been diagnosed with MS and still achieve their dreams.

"For me it was being a dad one day and when I was diagnosed at 23 I thought that would never happen.

"But fortunately for me I met my wife and we had our daughter, who has made out life interesting ever since.

"I'd always wanted to be a dad. I wanted to prove that just because I have MS, it doesn't stop me being a dad, I just have to rethink how I achieve it.

"I'd say MS doesn't have to stop you from doing anything, but it can stop you believing in yourself.

"But More to uS is about not being afraid to show everyone 'yeah, this is me.'

"It's about showing the world that even if you've got this thing called MS, that doesn't detract from the person you are. It's just an extra badge."

During the pandemic Gavin was told to shield because of his condition, he felt this time at home enabled him to spend quality time with his young daughter and wife.

During lockdown he has expanded on this existing hobby of baking and explored new recipes for him and his family to enjoy.

He said: "I have been baking cakes and I also started making gingerbread men, my daughter was fan of eating the uncooked dough!

"I also tried to bake some bread and my wife wasn't a fan of what it looked like when it was resting in the fridge, she described it as something out of ghostbusters - it didn't taste great either!

"But that's the thing with baking, if it doesn't turn out great, you just try again."

For more stories like Gavin's visit: www.livinglikeyou.co.uk.