By Jesse Laufer
It took David Allin a few days before he knew something was really wrong.
Even though it happened back in 1991, the former Canadian diplomat still remembers clearly his first attack from MS.
“I was in Portugal,” he said. “I was involved in treaty negotiations and was in a heated debate with a Portuguese lawyer. I don’t remember what the debate was about. I remember a huge blanket of fatigue falling on me. I ended up conceding the debate.”
Allin, then 39, was supposed to go on a driving tour the next day. He slept through the entire tour, which he estimates was nine hours long.
It got worse. The day after, he was supposed to relocate to Switzerland. When the time came to board the flight, he could barely get on.
Allin saw a Swiss doctor, and then made the next flight home to Ottawa to get treatment in Canada.
“They first thought it was a virus,” Allin remembers. “It took several months and then I had an MRI that showed the plaques around the nervous system.”
That’s when he knew for sure it was MS.
“You hear that diagnoses and a huge loneliness overcomes you,” he says.
“The issue with MS for me is a question of uncertainty. You don’t really know what’s around the corner. And no one can tell you what’s in store either. Some people have very bad luck. But for me it could be an awful lot worse, so I count my blessings.”
Around 100,000 Canadians currently live with MS. The disease is normally diagnosed early in life between the ages of 15 and 40, but can strike at any time, and mainly affects people living in the north.
Allin started getting involved with the MS of Canada Society shortly after his diagnosis.
He moved to Victoria after retiring with his wife Sandra and two daughters in 2010. Currently he sits as a board member for the local MS Society chapter.
In Victoria, the society provides services like physiotherapy, yoga classes, and courses to people who live—or love someone—who lives with MS. They also contribute to MS research. The MS Society offers similar types of service all over the county.
According to their website, in 2014 they raised more than $57 million for the cause. Eleven million went to Canadian MS research, and $15million went to direct support services and awareness campaigns.
One the biggest fundraising drivers for the Society is the annual MS Walk. The event attracts thousands of participants, donors, and sponsors.
Victoria’s 2016 MS Walk takes place Sunday, May 15th at 10 a.m. at Marigold Elementary. Participants can choose from 3 km, 6 km, or 9 km routes.
The Society hopes to raise $145,000 this year, which is about what they raised last year. They are already taking donations online, and have raised over $15,000 so far.
More information about the Victoria event can be found at mssociety.ca/get-involved/special-events, but there’s lots of ways to show support.
“A lot use online fundraising now, it’s easy because you can send messages to people online,” explains Todd Abercrombie, regional director for the MS Society’s South & Central Vancouver Island Chapter, Victoria. “We also got people doing poker nights, garage sales, bake sales and pub crawls.”
“This is Canada’s disease,” said David Allin. “There’s over 100,000 Canadians living with it. Let’s try to end it.”