‘I can lead a good life’ - Trowse teenager vows not to let life-limiting condition ruin her future
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A brave teenager has vowed to fulfil her dreams and ambitions despite being diagnosed with a serious and potentially life-threatening condition.
This summer Julia Schoppe, 17, of Trowse, was given the devastating news that she had multiple sclerosis (MS), an illness for which there is no cure.
It left her shocked and depressed - but one month on the teenager has decided she will not let the condition ruin her aspiration to become a nurse and start a family.
'I have got this condition but I am dealing with it and I can lead a good life,' Julia said.
And as well as battling her own condition, Julia has joined the fight to save a centre which helps people with MS from closing.
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The Norwich MS Therapy Centre, which also houses the MS Society's Norwich branch, is faced with the prospect of moving out of its Hellesdon premises unless £250,000 can be raised in the next six months.
The teenager is organising a charity event in Trowse on September 20 to raise funds for the centre.
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MS occurs when the body's immune system starts to attack myelin (a layer which protects the nerve system) because it mistakes it for a harmful substance. This causes damage to the nerve system and can, in the worst case, limit a person's mobility and movement.
In May Julia began feeling numb in her left fingers and the left side of her face.
When the numbing sensation failed to go away she went to a GP in Lakenham, who immediately referred her to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.
Tests confirmed Julia had relapsing remitting MS, the most common form of the condition.
'It's not quite sunk in yet,' Julia said. 'I still think I'm living in a bit of a dream. But there are worse things that could happen. Some young people get cancer.'
A common symptom of MS is depression, an illness Julia has had since she was a young teenager.
But she was so inspired by the treatment staff at the N&N gave her that she has set herself the target of becoming a nurse, which helps her focus and deal with the difficult times. 'The way they cared for me was so lovely. They made me want to put a nursing outfit on and start looking after other patients.'
Her boyfriend Mathew Hatch, 20, of Wymondham, has also been a source of support, along with the rest of her family.
Julia's medication has helped stave off any instant effects of MS and she is able to use her limbs and walk, although the latter sometimes makes her feel a bit shaky.
However every MS case is different, meaning Julia does not know when the condition will start to reduce her abilities.
'If it hits me when I'm 70 then I can deal with that, I'm not bothered about dying 10 or 15 years earlier as long as I can get to the grandparent stage,' she said.
'But I'm scared it will hit me in my 40s and that it will interrupt my career.'
Julia's fundraising event, on the village green in Trowse, will feature a cake sale, massage therapy, a raffle, an auction, photo-shoot, musical entertainment, and more. The event starts at 2pm.
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