Joanna La Rosa – Living with Multiple Sclerosis
My name is Joanna La Rosa and I am 57 years old. I have had secondary progressive multiple sclerosis for these past 28 years and I am also a cancer survivor for the last eight years.
My lifestyle had to change. I lost my independence and adapted to circumstances which have been very trying. Initially the MS diagnosis did not hinder me in the least. I continued to lead a normal life as much as I could and continued working. I managed to keep up with day-to-day issues; then unfortunately eight years ago I received further bad news, I was diagnosed with breast cancer! This left my family and myself totally shocked. The radiotherapy treatment for cancer affected me horribly and also made me very weak, besides being fatigu
ed from MS. My mobility gradually worsened till I now have to use an electric wheelchair. I need constant assistance with my daily needs, even though I use an electric wheelchair.
I used to work with our family business but unfortunately had to stop since I was diagnosed with cancer and my 49-year-old brother passed away suddenly, the day after my surgery. Life has not been easy as we were so close and used to run the business together which, eventually, we had to close down.
MS has affected me tremendously and my life has changed considerably. However, at the same time, life has taught me to be grateful for every day that I wake up to! I am lucky to have many ex-school friends and family members who support me tremendously. My mother is also of great help and has always taught me to fight on and take on many challenges.
I have also taken up a hobby; my passion is now for ceramics, glass fusing and painting techniques on furniture. You could say that I have discovered my artistic side. I also like travelling and attending concerts, art exhibitions. I encourage people to take up some hobby with things they are so passionate about, whether craft, painting, reading, whatever. I wish that more opportunities were available for MS sufferers to have flexible working hours, to be appreciated and respected.
Through all the challenges that I have faced, I continue to fight every day.