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Bill Pegus

“There is always a way that life’s circumstances can be made better with effective use of enthusiasm, optimism and a healthy lifestyle” is how Tasmanian ambassador Bill Pegus feels about his adjustment to a “new normal” following a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis in 1994.

Although symptomatic for two decades, this forward-thinking optimist has had a varied career as a primary school teacher, school principal, construction supervisor and current business owner. This has provided various challenges for him, and his family.

Initial symptoms of optic neuritis; heat sensitivity; balance, strength and coordination issues; and fatigue marked the “new normal” and were managed with the support of family.

Today, Bill feels he has been very lucky living with an unpredictable chronic progressive neurological condition. He is keen to stay as physically fit as possible and in turn maintain a positive state of mind.

Bill’s strategies are based around a healthy diet (made difficult by a love of ice-cream, chocolate and wine), lots of sleep, exercise, flexible self-employment and a great family.

Bill Pegus is a motivational speaker who will share with you how he manages living with MS and some of the positive outcomes from it.

Cristelle Denney

"To be perfectly honest, there was a part of me that was happy to receive my diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, not because I wanted to have an incurable disease, but finally I had an explanation for so many unusual symptoms and numerous misdiagnosis over many – many years."

Dealing with the diagnosis of a progressive neurological condition, was confronting for Cristelle, who had never felt quite so lost, alone and frightened!

Soon, however, Cristelle experienced a process of amazing life lessons about herself, family, friends, biology and weather patterns of all things. Impacted emotionally by the loss of her career as a high school biology teacher and her independence, she took control of what was happening inside her own body and hit the books and internet, to educate herself about what life was asking her to deal with.

Cris set out to challenge her methods of achieving her ability to gain back some control of her fine motor skills, core muscles and balance by working around the challenged brain pathways – not against them. Cris’s personal management and experience of her own “brain plasticity” provided her with peace, motivation and a sense of control.

World travel through cooler climates resulted in Cris’s improved quality of life which in turn led to a shift from Brisbane to Tasmania – resulting in a healthier and less stressful lifestyle and significant reduction in symptoms.

Cris would love to educate the community by sharing her story with those it will benefit, with her philosophy that she may not be able to cure MS but she is jolly well going to try to outrun it!

Hilary Hill

Hilary Hill is a dynamic woman who is tertiary qualified and works in the food and nutrition industry. Her life was once that of a fast-paced existence while living and working remotely in Sydney. She worked full time while raising two children almost single handedly.

In her own words Hilary's life had been that of "disgustingly good health" until three years ago when Hilary experienced unexplained numbness.

Investigations quickly revealed a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, a confronting and “foreign status” to someone who honestly “did not know how to have” an illness of any kind!"

In true academic style, Hilary researched the latest available information about multiple sclerosis via university websites, Google and our own Plus Connect service, which encouraged Hilary and her husband to make a successful tree change to the apple isle.

She has since joined an MS support group and is keen to educate, motivate and advocate on behalf of all Australians living with MS through her role as an ambassador.

Mark Jablonski

"In 2012, I bought myself a bicycle in an effort to regain some fitness. Nearing 40 and weighing 145kg, I had always played the ‘cheerful fat guy’, but struggled with my weight. After riding to work for a few days, I experienced such severe numbness in my legs that I had trouble walking. After a long series of tests, scans, pokes and prods, I was diagnosed with transverse myelitis in 2013, and finally remitting-relapsing multiple sclerosis in August 2014.

I remember that day vividly – I messaged my wife and then got in my car. I was just leaving the specialist when I felt an overwhelming, impotent rage. I’d never felt so weak or helpless in all my life. Dark visions of being laid out and useless filled my mind.

Fortunately, my strength has always been the great people I surround myself with, and the responsibility I feel to them. First among those are my wife and daughter. I realised I could not be that ‘cheerful fat guy’ any more – to be that size and unable to care for myself would put a burden on my family that I wasn’t prepared to accept.

I had bariatric surgery in April 2014 and not long after my wife did the same. Over the next 12 months, supporting change in each other, we shed more than 140kg between us. I lost nearly half my bodyweight.

‘Losing myself’ meant simple but profound changes – most of which I could never have imagined. Being able to just walk into any store and buy any shirt that takes my eye – unbelievable! A tragically bad but enthusiastic cricketer, I started playing at the age of 40 and am now Vice President at my Club.

But most important to me is the change to how I can ‘be there for’ my family. Overall, MS has improved my health, by giving me the impetus to actively manage my eating, do more exercise and be more engaged socially.

I am a powerful, honest, energetic and engaging speaker with a family history in promotions and presentation. My story is as humble as it is profound, and as important as it is ordinary.

I hope to leave you with an inspirational take on the importance you play not just in your own, but other people’s lives. I am looking forward to sharing my MS journey with others as an ambassador."

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