Life-changing MS drugs that helped Stephanie to 5 medals

Our patron and ambassador tells her moving story: The life-changing MS drugs that helped champion swimmer Stephanie Millward to five medals

Stephanie Millward was curious, but not alarmed, when her eye began to flicker visibly.

The champion swimmer, was, after all, full of energy and had shown such a talent for swimming that she was hoping to join the Great Britain squad for the Sydney Olympics in 2000 — at 15, she had broken the British record for 100m backstroke.

But then some other, unusual symptoms began. ‘I’d been to a swimming event in China — I should have come first, but finished eighth,’ recalls Stephanie.

‘When I got back I felt so ill I had to have a couple of days off school. I was weak, had no energy and my eyesight wasn’t right — my eye was flickering and my vision was jumping up and down. I kept bumping into people in the pool.’

Six months on and Stephanie’s energy levels were worryingly low. Her GP referred her to a specialist who sent her for an MRI scan. The scan showed scarring and inflammation on Stephanie’s brain.  Initially her neurologist suggested it was some kind of infection, but six months later, with her symptoms continuing, it was confirmed that she had multiple sclerosis (MS), an incurable condition that attacks the nervous system.

‘My doctor said I’d be in a wheelchair in five years,’ says Stephanie, now 34, who lives in Wiltshire. ‘He told me I’d slowly lose control over my body. So there was no way I’d ever be able to swim again and I should just give it up.

‘I was 17 and hadn’t even heard of MS. My mum gave me a book about it. I cried the whole way through.’

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