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Music has always been a powerful source of comfort and wellbeing for Chris. In his 20s, he achieved success as part of hard rock bands that played at the Falls Festival in 2004, on Rove Live in 2006 and the NRL 2007 semifinal. His music still features on Triple J Unearthed. Chris was diagnosed with MS in 2006, at 20 years old, and was eventually no longer able to meet the physical demands of performing on stage.

‘For a while after diagnosis I was playing a fair bit, rehearsing and performing anywhere from 1–3 gigs per week. Carrying heavy pieces of music equipment around without much of a thought around mobility, certainly being able to work for a couple of kilometers. I was also working full time

The first 10 years after diagnosis, the MS didn’t really affect my day-to-day life as much. It was a bit set and forget in those early days — especially as a 20-year-old. But in the last 5 or 6 years I’ve noticed a decline in mobility and other areas, which has meant I have sought more help.

‘Treatment options were fairly limited at the time I was diagnosed and it seemed easier just not to think about it, as there really wasn’t a lot you could do about it if it did get bad. It was tough to accept at such a young age.

‘A year after I was diagnosed, I got on to a drug trial, the first oral treatment for RRMS, also known as Fingolimod, or Gilenya. I was on the trial for a few years, and then stayed on the drug for a few more once it was released. It was something that really helped stave off symptoms,’ Chris says.

Chris now wishes to rekindle his love for music by purchasing a guitar, a professional microphone and recording software, through his MS Go for Gold Scholarship this year.

‘Realising my dream will be transformative, not only for my own life but also for those around me.

‘Reconnecting with my passion for music will provide me with a sense of purpose and fulfillment that goes beyond the limitations imposed by my MS. It would reignite a spark within me, reminding me of my resilience and capacity for joy despite the challenges I face,’ Chris says.

‘It’s a much better time to have MS, if there is such a thing, compared to when I was first diagnosed, as there is so much going on with treatments and early interventions. I think we all look forward to a time when we can have an effective cure and I’m confident it will happen within my lifetime. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to just keeping as well as I can.’

Chris recently got on to the NDIS, after his first application was rejected.

‘MS Plus was a big part of helping me put together that submission. Not knowing what the process involved it’s been great to have that advocate. My Key Worker was fantastic. She helped me to prepare. We had phone conversations over several weeks, probably totaling 10 hours, we went in depth about what my MS symptoms were and how they were affecting me.

‘This helped me to understand that I do in fact qualify for the NDIS. You can feel like perhaps your symptoms aren’t bad enough to justify getting that kind of support but after chatting with my support coordinator, I realised that yes, on the bad days I do need that extra assistance.

‘I had applied once already by myself and was pretty quickly knocked back. That made me realise how much depth of information was required for a successful NDIS application.’

Chris now works with an exercise physiologist and will soon start working with Physiotherapist, Dr Phu Hoang to make sure he is able to keep living well with MS. He’s looking forward to spending time once again on his music.

‘By getting back to writing and recording inspiring and motivational songs, I hope to connect with listeners on an emotional level and offer them hope and encouragement. Music has the power to bridge gaps and uplift spirits, and I intend to harness that power to create something meaningful.

‘I like to think of it like, while MS may have taken a lot from me, at the same time it has also given me something back. It’s taught me about humility and acceptance and about being more open with myself and with others about what’s happening.’

Chris and family

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