My journey with multiple sclerosis and advocacy
Surjeet Kaur (Ritu) is a multiple sclerosis (MS) warrior and inspiring advocate. Since her diagnosis in 2012 Ritu has gone on to create a global community for MS patients and those that support them. With a following of over 20k on social media Ritu is creating a hub for education, awareness and acceptance of MS amongst the patient’s families, friends, colleagues and society
It was an ordinary day in November 2012 and I woke up with a stiff neck. I tried to brush this off thinking I had slept funny. This sensation then progressed down to the right side of my whole body with extreme touch sensitivity. In addition, I started to experience the strangest electric shock sensation throughout my body. Slowly my right side became so numb that I had started limping and I couldn’t even eat food by myself.
“It was difficult to understand what was actually happening to me and what my future would look like”
Little did I know that something I thought to be so simple would change my life forever. After visiting a number of neurologists who undertook various tests, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). MS? I barely had an inkling about what MS is let alone be faced with such a diagnosis myself. Despite my shock and the endless questions spinning through my head, I was somewhat relieved that I was finally given a diagnosis so that I could start to look at the road to recovery.
I had lots of questions pondering in my mind like, what about my future? Will I be able to walk properly? Will I die early? Will I be able to work like before? Will anyone accept me and marry me?
It was difficult to understand what was actually happening to me and what my future would look like. However, I was thankful for my family who supported me in every way. My sister who is a near specialised physiotherapist had a great role to play in the diagnosis of MS. My parents supported me mentally and financially. Whereas my little brother has been my strength and reason to smile.
Once I had come to terms with my diagnosis, I knew I had to do something to help others in a similar position to me. With the help of my brother, I then started a Facebook page (@multiplesclerosisliving) and Instagram (@multiplesclerosis.awareness), to create knowledge and spread awareness about MS.
“My motto was to “Spread Awareness with Love and Happiness”. I specifically chose the words love and happiness because I strongly believed that MS patients need love and care to feel positive and to be motivated.“
Today, I have now built a community of over 20,000 people worldwide. Through this community, people can meet each other, share their opinions and make friends. I want to make people believe that they are not alone in this fight against MS. There are billions of people fighting with MS and together we all need to help and support each other.
I also create various MS Awareness campaigns in which I invite MS patients to participate. Some of the successful MS campaigns we have done are “Workout MS” , “How MS Feels” and “Beat MS With”. These campaigns are available on our IGTV and YouTube channel. Currently we are running a campaign called “We Switch MS” campaign
To create knowledge about MS, I regularly interview multiple sclerosis specialists, doctors, nutritionists etc via Instagram Live which has proved to be extremely popular amongst the MS Community. What is great is that fellow warriors can put questions to the experts during my live sessions for free of charge. So if someone needs an opinion of an MS specialist, they can ask their questions without any hesitation or fear.
“What is great is that fellow warriors can put questions to the experts during my live sessions for free of charge“
Recently, I also launched a podcast “10 Minutes for MS”, where I interview doctors to speak about various topics related to MS. All of my content is available free of charge, at no cost at all to my viewers and listeners. This podcast is streaming on all major platforms like Spotify, Apple Podcast, Google Podcast and YouTube.
Today, I feel confident and strong. It is said that “everything happens for a reason” and I think that MS has given me a reason to do something great for the society and help others. I have become a torchbearer and spread awareness with love and courage to face it.
“Through my efforts I am trying to remove the fear about MS and the taboo associated with this disease“
I have been an MS warrior for the last 9 years and in these years I have learnt that MS is a unique disease and it is different for everyone. No two patients of MS are alike and not everyone, as is widely believed ends up in a wheel chair. Through my efforts I am trying to remove the fear about MS and the taboo associated with this disease, so that the patients can live without fear and there is acceptance for the same in the society.
MS just doesn’t affect a person physically; it also affects mentally and can cause depression. When we as MS warriors are fighting with MS, we are also fighting with mental health. MS caregivers and society need to be educated around MS. MS is definitely nothing to be ashamed of and MS doesn’t define any person, we are stronger than MS.
World multiple sclerosis day is celebrated on the 30th May each year, to find out how you can be involved and raise awareness for everyone affected by MS go to:
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