A mother of two was determined not to let multiple sclerosis stop her achieving her dream of becoming a nurse.
Sian Lewis, 32, of Ilchester, was diagnosed seven years ago when she was in her first year of nursing training at university.
She had just covered the topic of multiple sclerosis on her course when doctors told her she had the condition.
Although confused and frightened, she was determined not to let it get her down.
Mrs Lewis, who now works as a part-time nurse in Shepton Mallet, said: “I was in tears, I was gutted. I went into a bit of a low time but then I picked myself up. I had a young daughter to look after.
“I work part-time but a lot of that is because I have kids. I don’t want to work full-time when I’ve young kids. People think you can’t have kids but you can. I had a child before I was diagnosed and one after. Some people have this really bad perception of it, it is really not that bad.”
There are four types of multiple sclerosis: benign, relapse and remittent, secondary progressive and primary progressive. Mrs Lewis, who was diagnosed with relapse and remittent, said not all sufferers will have the same symptoms.
She said she has had just two relapses – she was off work for ten weeks each time – since her diagnosis.
However, she said the unpredictable nature of the condition means she finds it difficult to make plans.
She added: “You lose friends because of it. Even some of my closest friends have got to the point where they stop asking me to do things.
“It is difficult to live with sometimes and you do wonder ‘why me, what have I done?’ But I try to keep upbeat because if you don’t people will get fed up hearing about it. It is tiring sometimes but I think a lot of that is just being a parent, not just multiple sclerosis. Parenting in general is testing.
“I still have a job and I still do things. As soon as you mention it, people think it’s really bad and you’re going to die. It is horrible but it’s really not that bad all the time. It doesn’t mean a death sentence; many people live with it for years and years.”
Mrs Lewis meets other people with multiple sclerosis once a month in Street where she can talk to others who know what she is going through.
She hopes a ladies’ charity pamper and craft evening this weekend will help raise vital funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Society, the UK’s leading charity dedicated to beating multiple sclerosis by investing in research.
Held in Ilchester Town Hall from 6.30pm to 9.30pm, the fundraising evening on Saturday will include a host of pampering treatments such as hair and make-up, nail-painting and scalp massage. There will also be cupcakes, burlesque dancing, a photographer and a raffle. There won’t be alcohol on sale but people can bring their own.
Tickets cost £2.50 and include a glass of fruit punch. They can be bought in advance through Studio CCK in Ilchester or from Sarah-Jane Weston at 4 Esmonde Drive, Ilchester, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets can also be bought on the door.
Treatment spaces are limited so please contact Studio CCK to pre-book.
Money can also be donated by visiting www.justgiving.com/Sian-Lewis8.