“Having M.S. does not define me. I changed my thinking about M.S. I am not a M.S. sufferer, M.S. suffers me, I haven’t got M.S. but rather M.S. has me and god love it!”

Mayor of South Dublin County Mark Ward is all set to run in Sunday’s Dublin Marathon and he has an inspirational message to share.

13 years on from the day he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis he couldn’t be in a better place.

“In 2005 my life as I knew it was over,” he says.

“After diagnosis the standard of care and assistance I received from the HSE was almost non-existent. When someone is diagnosed like me with an incurable progressive neurological condition like MS, the psychological impact can be immense.”

Mayor Ward said he put on a front to the outside world, that everything was fine, but the reality was different.

“Inside I was dying. I was caught in such a ball of fear that I isolated myself from my family including my children. I was unable to articulate how I was feeling.

“After losing another job. I found myself unemployed for the first time in my life. The shame I felt as a man that always provided for his family multiplied the other issues in my life. I had a complete mental and physical breakdown.”

“I started to change my lifestyle. I changed my diet, stopped drinking alcohol and started exercising. Gradually things started to improve. I enrolled in a course that led onto college. A memory that always sticks with me is walking through U.C.D. to college with all the other students and finally realising that I was as good as any of them”

“I qualified as a behavioural therapist and was working in a job that I adored specialising working with people with addiction issues. I had a talent working with people that society had discarded. The people that everyone else thought were lost causes, sure wasn’t I a lost cause myself at one stage”

“I have been in training for the Dublin City Marathon for 8 months.

“The confidence I have got from running is unreal and the support and well wishes I have got from everyone has been inspirational. I am looking forward to Sunday with a hint of trepidation but I know I have prepared myself for this run to the best of my ability”

“I am one of over 800,000 Irish people who are living with neurological conditions, such as migraine, epilepsy, stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and rare and genetic neurological conditions”

“Today I am healthy, mentally and physically. My relationships with my family and friends is unbelievable. I live a fully active like where I try on daily basis to make a positive difference in people’s lives. To show them that there is light at the end of the tunnel. If what I am doing helps them and their families not to suffer the way I and my family did it will be worth it.

“I have a MRI appointment 2 days after the marathon. This is my first MRI scan in over 8 years. Whilst the physical and psychological effects of MS have abated over the years I have no idea if the disease has progressed in a neurological sense.”

“As well as raising awareness about MS I am also raising much needed funds for MS Ireland. People can sponsor me on https://dublin-city-marathon-2018.everydayhero.com/ie/mark-s-marathon-for-m-s