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Young Langley mom with MS joins walk for a cure

Curtis Bowerman,  David Skingsley-Bowerman and Katie Skingsley in Douglas Park, where the Scotiabank MS Walk will begin on Sunday, April 27.  - Dan FERGUSON/Langley Times
Curtis Bowerman, David Skingsley-Bowerman and Katie Skingsley in Douglas Park, where the Scotiabank MS Walk will begin on Sunday, April 27.
— image credit: Dan FERGUSON/Langley Times

Raising children is no easy task, but for Langley’s Katie Skingsley — who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2008 — parenting presents a new form of challenges as she learns to cope with its disabling effects.

“When I’m having a relapse I can’t find the energy,” said Skingsley. “Lifting [my son] is tough. Even when we go out for walks I get pain in my legs, so we don’t get out as much as we should.”

When symptoms do re-occur, the change in mobility can also be difficult to explain to her three-year-old who wants to play.

Like so many Canadians (Canada has the highest rate of MS in the world), Skingsley was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS — one of the more common forms of the disease.

Often people diagnosed with this type, experience periods when no symptoms occur; yet the unpredictable disease can cause relapses in fatigue, numbness and muscle weakening.

Though the cause is still unknown, the neurological disease does impact women twice as much as men, and usually during the prime of their lives, at a time when women are starting families and/or building a career.

For Skinglsey, she was 28 when she was diagnosed with MS. The first symptoms she experienced happened 10 y ears before her diagnosis, first with the skin on her left leg going numb.

The numbness spread to her entire leg and then lower back. She had spent a decade suffering with problems that her doctor had no answer for her. He believed her symptoms were her body’s way of dealing with the loss of her father.

“After the diagnosis it was a relief but also a very sad day for me and my family,” she said.

To relieve some of the symptoms, especially the intense fatigue, Skingsley currently relies on Vitamin D and Magnesium as natural alternatives.

“I really want to start proper treatments but I don’t want to do that until I’m done having kids since there are no drugs that are safe in the first trimester,” she said.

Since being diagnosed, Skingsley has had around five relapses.

Her advice to other parents diagnosed with MS is to reach out for help when you need it.

Between juggling full-time work, parenting, and coping with her diagnosis, her biggest resource has been her mother, who helps look after her son during the day.

“It can be tough if you can’t get out of bed,” she explains.

“You can’t do everything by yourself and if  you try to, that’s when relapses get worse.”

She also credits her husband for being by her side and doing everything he can to make it easier on her.

In an effort to take action against MS, Skingsley and a team of friends and family will be participating in the Langley Scotiabank MS Walk on April 27 at Douglas Park.

Her team, named “Mighty Sassy,” will be joining the Walk for their sixth year at Douglas Park.

Funds raised are used toward critical research and support programs, benefiting Canadians diagnosed with MS throughout B.C. and nationally.

“I feel hopeful,” said Skingsley. “Hopeful that we will find a cure, that I won’t get too bad, and that I’ll be there for my grandchildren one day.”

LANGLEY MS WALK

When: Sunday, April 27

Where: Douglas Park

Time: Check-in: 11 a.m. Start: 1 p.m.

Route Lengths: 3 km and 6 km.

Go to mssociety.ca to register a team

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