When Sydney mum Kerrie Newton began inexplicably tripping on her daily walks, she assumed something was wrong with her shoes.
“I thought it was the one on my right foot,” Kerrie tells me. “But then I threw them away, and was shocked because it just kept happening.”
Kerrie had also been feeling crippling fatigue for months.
“I felt major fatigue. My friends that had babies the same age as mine were going to the gym at 8pm after dinner, whereas I was just wanting to sleep all the time.”
Then there was the strange incident at yoga class.
“I always did yoga and one session, I just couldn’t hold my legs up like I used to.”
As symptoms began adding up, Kerrie began researching. With every new ailment, the possibilities of what the mother had were narrowing, until one day, two years down the track, there was only one diagnosis Google offered her: multiple sclerosis.
A doctor's appointment confirmed the frightening news that Kerrie would have to share with her husband Mark and two young boys, who were five and seven at the time, when she arrived home.
Kerrie's diagnosis meant she was battling a varied and unpredictable condition, one that progressively attacks her central nervous system, resulting in a combination of problems - from weakened motor control, to visual disturbances and severe heat sensitivity.
A disease defined by lesions on the brain and spinal cord, for which there is no cure.
“It was just all so overwhelming," Kerrie reminisces of the lonely drive home. "You want to keep it a secret, you don’t want people to know there’s something wrong.
"You’re going through so much grief, it feels like a loss of the person that you were. I kept thinking, 'what's going to happen to the kids?' I was going through so many emotions, and just trying to get my head around what was happening. It was just overwhelming in every respect."
"I told Mark along the way to prepare him for what it might be," Kerrie tells me nine years on. "And then when I got the diagnosis I said to him 'it's positive, it is MS'.
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"He's from a medical family, so from day one, I had someone I could talk to in my mother-in-law. I was happy to have her because I knew she'd give me the facts."
'The facts include that no two cases of MS are the same, making it more difficult for Kerrie to prepare for what was to come.
Within three years, she was forced to stop driving. Another year later, she was in a wheelchair; a drastic lifestyle change that forced Kerrie to accept she wouldn't be returning to work in accounts, and one that saw her shift roles as a mum, too.
"It all hit me pretty quickly, so the boys had to fend for themselves, which was not easy to get my head around as a mum because you want to mother them," she says.
"From a very young age, they had to get themselves to school and sport, and to birthday parties. As a mum you really cherish those times but it’s something I just can't do. You kind of have to make a decision that you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do."
What Kerrie says most people don't understand about her MS, however, is the fatigue she wakes up with every day; a tiredness so extreme she can only get "basic, everyday things done".
"I think the fatigue is something that people really underestimate. It’s really debilitating, a very chronic fatigue," she explains.
"I get help with a lot of things, now. The boys (now 14 and 16) and Mark help with the cooking, the washing, the cleaning, the garden, everything really - anything a healthy person would take for granted. But we do what we can to get by."
When I ask Kerrie about her refreshing laissez-faire outlook, she tells me this wasn't always the case. At one point, shortly after a doctor confirmed her diagnosis, she hit "rock bottom".
"In those early days I locked myself away," Kerrie says. "I was embarrassed. I didn't want people to see me, but I actually took that time to learn everything I could about medication and awareness.
"I made a decision that I wouldn't stress, and would live in the present. I don't worry about what tomorrow might bring. With a progressive illness, doing that will wear you away mentally. If I keep mentally strong, I enjoy my life that way."
One thing that gave Kerrie Newton hope in her darkest hours, was the crucial contribution of the MS Walk + Fun Run.
"It’s important to raise awareness so that people can understand what people like me go through day to day," she says.
The MS Walk + Fun Run , which is held annually in Melbourne, Sydney, and Canberra, not only raises awareness about the disease but also raises millions of dollars to fund essential services and support people like Kerrie.
The event, which aims to one day find a cure for MS, unifies all corners of the community for this very special reason.
"There are 23,000 people in Australia living with MS at the moment, and that number is increasing every year," Kerrie says.
"The MS Walk + Fun Run is so important because it gives us a better chance of knowing what, why, and how we can prevent it. It's just so helpful to know events like this are out there, really.
Please head to and like the MS Walk + Fun Run Facebook page for more information and up to date notices of the event.
MS Walk + Fun Run are currently offering a special price exclusive to you on adults, children and family tickets. You can register here.
How are you getting involved this year?
This post was sponsored by our brand partner Multiple Sclerosis Limited.
This year we have exciting developments for the fundraiser, dogs are now permitted on the walk (not the run) and furthermore we're thrilled to introduce the MS Hub - where you can hear the latest on MS research, the National Disability Insurance Scheme and living well with multiple sclerosis. The MS Walk + Fun Run will be taking place in iconic locations across Australia and all tracks are wheelchair and stroller friendly.