Yolanda's story

Yolanda, MSWA Client living with multiple sclerosis (MS)
“When I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis last year, I was actually really happy,” explains Yolanda Wegman. “For years, I’d been having problems and I finally had an explanation.”

When Yolanda was in high school, she inexplicably lost her night vision, her grades dropped and her walking gait changed. The tests done at the time didn’t pick up the underlying neurological condition, but she now knows that this was the beginning of her 20-year journey with MS.

Yolanda jokes that over the years, ‘collecting specialists’ became her unofficial hobby. “Doctors would be stumped and say, ‘I can see there’s a problem but I don’t know what it is’.”

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It wasn’t until she began losing feeling in her hands and feet in 2020 that things changed. She went off to see another specialist, and this time the MRI showed up multiple MS lesions.

“I finally had my answer,” says Yolanda. “The next question was: what does this answer mean?”

Yolanda turned to MSWA for help.

“I found MSWA when I Googled neurological support. I was drawn to their focus on research and advocacy, so I sent an enquiry via the online form and one of the team got in touch. They have facilitated so many connections for me.”

MSWA have assisted Yolanda with her NDIS pre-planning meeting, and she now has funding for an occupational therapy functional assessment.

“Before diagnosis, I struggled with getting the right support and help. It’s exciting to now be able to explore how I can normalise my life.”

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Yolanda is also grateful to the MSWA Counselling team. “One of the very first places they told me about was my local Coffee Club that is run by MSWA. I go every month to talk to other MSWA Clients who are affected by MS. It’s been amazing to have a link. Six months ago, I didn’t know anyone else with MS. I was isolated and didn’t know what was going on with me. Now, I have a group of peers who ‘get it’. Family and friends have been amazingly supportive, but unless you’re living it, you can’t understand.”

“At Coffee Club, you can talk about an obscure symptom, for instance, and other people will say, “I get that too!” It’s great to be able to make that connection.”

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Yolanda with fellow MSWA Client, Jill, at their local MSWA Coffee Club

Pictured: Yolanda with fellow MSWA Client, Jill, at their local MSWA Coffee Club

The symptoms that affect Yolanda currently include fatigue, heat intolerance and numbness in her hands. “I have difficulty typing on a keyboard,” she explains.

When she was diagnosed last year, Yolanda was working in early learning. “It’s something I’m passionate about but it’s a difficult job for someone with neurological issues because everything is in miniature. The chairs are tiny! And being outdoors in the heat is challenging.” Yolanda used the end of her contract as an opportunity to reevaluate what was important and to think about a more sustainable career.

“I’m applying for a TAFE course in Allied Health Assistance to get into speech pathology. I want to help children who have different needs.”

“My mum’s been on the whole journey with me – taking me to all those specialist appointments over the years. Having an answer has been validating in a way. It’s a whole experience we’ve gone through together.”

Yolanda laughs on recalling that she told her brother about her diagnosis by saying, “You know the MSWA Mega Home Lottery? Well, I need to thank you for always buying a ticket.”

When speaking of the future, she is looking forward to life with newfound clarity.

“When you tell someone you have MS, there’s often an expectation that you’ll end up in a wheelchair. That’s not what my peers and I expect. We’re the new generation of MS patients. The medications and treatments available are increasingly effective. There is so much support available.”
“To anyone who has just been diagnosed I would say this: You don’t have to have all the answers. Take your time. It’s a lot to deal with. You’ll feel like you’ll be lost forever but you won’t. Find a group like the MSWA Coffee Club. Get support from people that are going through the same thing. That’s the biggest thing that helped me.”


If you'd like to find out how MSWA can support people living with a neurological condition, call us on
1300 097 989 or fill in the form below.