'I don't feel like I have a quality of life anymore' - Norwich woman with MS aims to raise £70,000 for treatment in Mexico
PUBLISHED: 10:06 01 July 2018 | UPDATED: 18:46 01 July 2018
Archant Norfolk 2018
On a bad day she can manage little more than to drag herself down the stairs to make a coffee and take her daily 20 pills.
And a good day is not much better, although she might be able to summon the energy to have a bath.
That is the reality of everyday life for 45-year-old Emma Ives, who has lived with multiple sclerosis (MS) for 26 years.
The condition, which affects the brain and the spinal cord, has left Emma confined to a wheelchair and feeling she had “no quality of life”.
Emma was told she had MS when she was just 19 years old.
She said: “I was a delivery driver for my dad so I just assumed [the pain] was a pulled muscle in my back and I had a numb foot.”
But she was later told she had MS, which as time went on restricted her more and more.
“Now it’s got to a stage where I don’t feel like I have a quality of life anymore,” she said.
“I crawl around on my hands and knees which takes all my energy. I make a coffee and take my pills and some days that’s all I can do. My legs now, I can feel them but they don’t work, so I have to move them with my hands.
“I used to be able to get in my car and have my freedom and now I end up falling on the floor. I’m ill and I don’t want it to be like that. There’s just so much I want to do that I can’t do.”
After she was diagnosed, Emma, from Thorpe Marriott, soon realised she wanted to have a baby.
“If I didn’t do that my life really would have had nothing,” she said. “I always said as long as I brought my son Mark up I would be happy.”
But since her 19-month-old grandson Cody was born, Emma’s resolve to fight against her MS was renewed, and along with family and friends she has launched an ambitious bid to get to Mexico for pioneering stem cell treatment which could change her life.
She said: “Now Cody is the one who has given me inspiration.”
It would take £70,000 to get Emma to Mexico for the treatment, which is not available on the NHS but has been reported to have miraculous results in trials.
She said: “There was a man in a wheelchair and he came back able to walk into the consultant’s office. It has to potential to reverse disability, but nobody can really say how it might work for me.
“It’s very invasive and it’s a one-off treatment. It’s a case of rebooting my immune system. Everything is taken out and put back into you.”
Leading the fundraising effort for Emma are her sister Fliss Keeley, sister-in-law Rebecca Bowers, and friend Mel Bennett.
The trio are putting themselves through all kinds of challenges to help reach the £70,000 target which they are “determined” to hit.
They include pushing themselves in the 10k Run Norwich race, a daring skydive, and collecting money in Caffe Nero stores, where both Fliss and Mel work.
Another Caffe Nero employee, Alex March, even shaved his head to raise money for the cause.
And a charity night is planned at The Cottage in Thorpe St Andrew on August 4, with more events on their way.
Emma said the support was “overwhelming”.
She said: “It’s beyond words and it makes you want to cry.”
She added: “I was always strong, I still am to a certain extent. But now Cody is the one who has given me inspiration.”