Motherwell woman Claire Hamilton has engaged in a chocless challenge to raise funds for the MS Society ... in memory of her late mum.
Claire’s mum Carol, of Airbles Tower, died at the age of 48 in June 2010, having battled against multiple sclerosis for many years.
She had spent six months in hospital, transferring from Wishaw General to Hairmyres for an exploratory operation to determine what was wrong.
After the operation she contracted an infection and had to be sedated, after which a number of other complications ensued because her body wasn’t strong enough after months of illness and countless other major operations.
Eventually, Carol was placed on a ventilator.
Claire said: “Her death was a cruel, sad, yet happy affair.
“Cruel because only days before she showed signs of recovery, before another infection developed and we had run out of options other than to let her go.
“Sad because of obvious reasons – she was an inspiration to everyone and had a humorous and slightly mental personality, so everyone loved her.
“She never stopped fighting the MS and never gave up, even when she was reduced to life in a wheelchair and had constant home helps to look after her when I was looking after my two little ones.
“Myself and my stepdad were her primary carers.
“She also lived for my little ones – Logan had turned three in the February, and Amber would be turning one in the July.
“She only got to see Amber for five months before going into hospital.
“Once Amber started to crawl I couldn’t take her to visit anymore because the patients were too sick, so I supplied my mum with weekly videos of the kids.
“And, happy because once they switched off all of the machines she started to come round.
“We got to chat and joke with her but thought it best not to let her know what was happening.
“It took 20 minutes for her to pass and she died with a smile on her face.”
In memory of her mum archaeology and earth sciences student Claire (30), of Aster Gardens, is undergoing her biggest challenge – not eating chocolate for the month of March to raise awareness of MS and to funds for the MS Society.
She said: “I have given up what is possibly the most difficult thing for me to live without – chocolate! I normally eat it every day but I am managing very well and have been promised plenty from April 1.
“I’ve had to put up with my son and daughter, boyfriend and friends eating chocolate in front of me, saying that it tastes so good and that I should try some.
“There was even one night when I had a dream about eating Terry’s Chocolate Orange and I could almost taste it when I woke up!
“However, those closest to me also know how important this charity is to me and how their research and success stories helped my mum, who suffered terribly from the condition.
“My mum was extremely courageous and when the MS punched her with another heavy blow she’d take a day or two to grieve, then roll her sleeves up and get on with it.
“I wish I could be as brave as her. If depression and anxiety rear their ugly heads I’m down and out for the count, yet these were illnesses mum also dealt with as part and parcel of MS.
“All donations are welcome, no matter how big or small.”
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After the month ends, Claire intends to continue fundraising for the MS Society using a skill passed on to her by Carol.
She said: “My mum taught me how to cross stitch when I was around seven years old.
“It was our favourite hobby that we loved to do together while relaxing, chatting, listening to music.
“I want to carry on in memory of an amazing woman, so I thought it was only appropriate that I make cross stitch pieces and frame them, then sell them and give the proceeds to the MS Society.
“I haven’t started them yet because university is rather hectic at the moment, but plan to start very soon.
“There will be a range of different sizes and themes, including holiday motifs.
“They will be available on an Etsy page I recently created, CrossStitchForMS, and I will also create a page on Facebook for any enquiries or requests.”
Claire raised £1000 for the MS Society last year and Katie Bruce, area fundraiser for West Scotland, detailed how fundarising has helped the charity in the past 12 months.
She said: “We ran 14 Living Well with MS courses last year and trained a new group of volunteer facilitators in Glasgow in November, each of whom have MS.
“These courses are a holistic combination of MS Society trained volunteers giving information as well as peer to peer support of people with MS talking to others who are more recently diagnosed or just need more help with coping mechanisms.
“In August we began a new project called Active Together where we support people living with MS to get and keep active. This disproved a long established assumption that exercise was bad for people living with MS.
“This assumption was down to a few factors such as when people with MS get too hot, it can exacerbate symptoms, as well as fatigue making people feel so exhausted that they couldn’t possibly want to go out for any form of exercise.
“We set about finding gyms and classes that are accessible to everyone with MS. December saw people taking part in a circus skills workshop as well as wheelchair curling.
“In 2018 we are partnering with different organisations to ensure people with MS can take up sports such as archery, horse riding and basketball.
“As well as working to support people living with the condition, the MS Society works towards stopping MS.
“The past 12 months have shown that we have never been closer with lots of promising new medications coming out in 2017, as well as exciting research into stem cells being able to repair the damage caused by MS.”