Here are the stats:
Jemma Barsby is 22 years old. She first played cricket for Queensland at 15, and for her country at 16. Today, the all-rounder (who can bowl with both hands!) is one of the most talked about players in the Women’s Big Bash League, and is set to return to play for the Brisbane Heat this summer.
She also happens to have Multiple Sclerosis.
Barsby was just 20 when she was given her diagnosis. After a weekend bowling at a training camp for the Australian Southern Stars, she was sent off for scans on a sore shoulder. Strain, she thought. Just a little shock to the body.
“At the time I didn’t think it could be anything too serious,” Barsby told Mamamia. “But I remember the day clearly, going into to see our team doctor. The first thing she said was, ‘We’re still going to be friends, right?'”
M.S. is a progressive disease of the central nervous system, that has no known cause or cure. It attacks the fatty casing that protects nerve fibres, causing scarring (sclerosis) that can disrupt or even block signals within the brain and/or spinal cord. These ‘scars’ occur in different places for different suffers, meaning symptoms will vary person to person.
For Barsby, for example, it causes pins-and-needles in her fingers, down her spine and in her legs, as well as intense fatigue.
She is one of 23,000 Australians living with the condition. Yet at the time of diagnosis in 2015, she – like most – didn’t really know what M.S. was, what the little white dots on her MRI scan meant for her health and her cricket career.
“It was scary… The first thing I did was call my parents, and we all came together as a family that afternoon, had a cry session and just got it all out,” she said.
“It was really hard for a few days after that. Because I got [diagnosed] on a Thursday and it wasn’t until the Monday coming that I saw the neurologist to find out how bad it was, the extent of it. So I was in limbo. I went to training to try and distract myself.”
As some of you are aware, today I start my medication for MS. From today, for the rest of my life, I have to take a tablet a day to stop/prevent attacks. Laying by myself in a hospital bed for 6 hours has given me a lot of time to think, particularly about all those people who have it worse than me. People who have to lay in a hospital bed every day and can only look out the hospital window to see what sort of day it is. Although I have MS, I count myself very lucky that I can still do the things I love. Like many people who have a disease, I’ll never let this stop me. I choose to live my life the way I want to, regardless of what life has dealt me. Today has really made me appreciate how lucky I actually am. Who knows what tomorrow holds for each of us – we just have to enjoy what we have each and every day ✌????️✌????