MEET HEATHER MANSKIE
22 MARCH 2022
An avid baker and mother of a two-year-old son, the MS Go for Gold Scholarship came as a welcome surprise.
“I thought I should just go for it. I didn’t think that I would win!” says Heather.
Heather purchased a Thermomix with her MS Go for Gold Scholarship and has big plans to put it into action. Long-term she wants to start a business baking cakes, but for now it helps with day to day food preparation.
“Cooking is my artistic outlet. I love to bake and make pastas and curries. The Thermomix has made food preparation so much quicker and easier. It allows me to make recipes from scratch in a more efficient way.”
“My hands are quite affected from my MS. My left hand is completely numb all the time, so doing things with my hands is difficult."
"The Thermomix enables me to do all the little things like chopping, repetitive stirring and kneading of doughs – all things I struggle to do.”
“Yesterday I made scones and didn’t have to whip the cream by holding a hand mixer.”
For Heather, MS causes a lot of numbness in her body. Her left hand is always numb, and her right thigh and feet are intermittently numb.
“I can feel quite unbalanced at times, quite weak and uneasy.”
“Sometimes I struggle pronouncing words that usually I can pronounce.”
“I think I had MS symptoms for a long time but didn’t realise they were MS. Some of the symptoms I’d had for at least five years were balance issues, sensory problems, feet going numb, itching, vision problems – for years thinking I could see something out of the left side of my eye then I would turn and it would go away.”
For Heather, it turns out these symptoms were all part of her MS.
Speaking of her diagnosis Heather shares, “I’d just returned to work from maternity leave and started going back to the gym. I said to one of my colleagues ‘My left hand is completely numb’. I thought it was just a pinched nerve from exercising. He encouraged me to the hospital. I was pretty blasé initially. He then convinced me to go to the doctor. So, five days later I got into the doctor for an appointment… by that time both my hands were numb, as well as both my feet and my lips. 11am the same day I saw a neurologist.”
Everything happened so quickly for Heather from there. She was examined, had an MRI and lumbar puncture.
Within one month her diagnosis of MS was confirmed.
Heather reached out to MS Connect – our free helpline for people living with MS and their families.
“I’ve never had support like this before with my other autoimmune disease. It’s incredible. MS Connect have called me at least three times to check in and see how I’m going since my diagnosis.”
“For me it's all still so new. I have to remind myself to take it easy, to step back a bit. The symptoms can be frustrating at times.”
Heather says the education side of MS can be tricky to navigate.
“People try to be supportive but it’s hard to explain my symptoms sometimes."
"Most people who have MS don’t look sick but can feel awful. Today, I look completely fine but my feet and my hand are numb.”
Day to day Heather manages her MS by forward planning. With her feet being numb, something simple like walking in a playground can be difficult with the uneven surface.
“I need to pre-plan activities with my son. Making sure there’s somewhere I can sit down and rest.”
When she’s not exploring the world with her son, Heather is in the kitchen whipping up delicious treats.
To our fundraisers, Heather is grateful for the opportunity to bake with ease and take one step closer to running her own business.
“It means so much to be awarded this scholarship. Giving people with disability the chance to enhance their life, in whatever area they want to, is amazing. We often get overlooked or miss out on opportunity. You get support for the negative symptoms, but the scholarship is a positive thing – to be awarded something to improve your life is just amazing.”