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MS sufferer: 'It is like going to the gym for 10 hours'

MS suffer Ronelle Palmer  and her mother Karyn.
MS suffer Ronelle Palmer and her mother Karyn. Tom Daunt

IN 2004, Ronelle Palmer was an active and healthy young women.

The then mother of two was working 60 hours per week running a successful childcare business in Gympie.

That all changed.

One day, without warning, she found the entire left side of her body was paralysed.

"I thought I had pinched a nerve or done my back," Ms Palmer said.

The diagnosis would turn out to be much more sinister.

Initially Ms Palmer, 40, thought she was in the early stages of having a nervous breakdown.

As an ambitious mother operating a busy business, it wasn't out of the realm of possibility.

A holiday soon followed, in an attempt to gain some perspective and regain her health.

But it didn't get better, and her paralysis was becoming more and more debilitating.

A visit to the physiotherapist turned into an urgent examination from her GP.

She was in emergency shortly afterwards.

The early diagnosis came back as a stroke. It wasn't.

It took Ms Palmer three months to get over that first Multiple Sclerosis attack, and it's ruled her life ever since.

A condition of the central nervous system, it interferes with impulses within the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve.

It is painful and Ms Palmer is house bound.

Now a mother of four, she finds it difficult on good days and impossible on bad ones to do the most simple of domestic tasks.

She has trouble showering unassisted and gets fatigued by getting out of bed.

"The pain gets to me," she said.

"It's like going to a gym and doing a workout for 10 hours.

"Some days are better than others, (on those) other days I can't get out of bed.

"It is debilitating," she said.

In an attempt to regain her life, Ms Palmer is seeking a controversial stem cell treatment in Russia.

Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation comes at a significant cost and is not with out risk. It is invasive surgery and there is no guarantee it will work.

Ms Palmer will need to be in Moscow for three months, away from her children and the majority of her support network.

Her stem cells are removed, washed and re-inserted.

She is required to undergo chemotherapy at the same time to weaken her immune system.

She is shaving her head before she goes, so the effect on her kids is not overwhelming when she returns home with no hair.

Ms Palmer applied to be part of a similar treatment program in Sydney, but was rejected on the basis she had the disease for over ten years, leaving her no choice other than to seek alternatives overseas.

The cost of the treatment is about $60,000.

"In my body I feel 80 years old but in my head I feel younger than I am.

"I just want to be able to leave the house with the kids," she said.

Ms Palmer is hosting a fund raising cent auction at the Albert Park Bowls Club on Sunday, November 5.

Starting at 10.30am, all money raised will go towards travel and treatment costs for Ms Palmer and her mother Karyn who is required to travel with her for the procedure.

Topics:  medical assistant multiple sclerosis people of gympie russia stem cell therapy

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