Hope Reborn is a unique collaboration with composer Fabio D’Andrea, actress Rose Leslie and the MS Society, to raise awareness of MS as well as funds for both the charities. Rose Leslie has a close personal connection to MS and was chosen for this reason to play the main character in the film.
It was important to Fabio and everyone involved in the project that people with MS played a key part in the filming, so alongside Rose, volunteers from Overcoming MS and the MS Society took part as extras. We spoke to some of our own volunteers who were extras in the final scene.
Monica is an active member of the Hertfordshire Circle and co-Ambassador of the Progressive MS Circle. We spoke to her about her experience on the set of Hope Reborn and her Overcoming MS journey.
What made you want to take part in the Hope Reborn project?
I didn’t know anything about it beforehand, but never having worked or been involved in the creative industries, I was keen to see a piece of art being created. Even better that it would tell the story of someone rising above the limitations imposed on them by MS, literally as it turned out.
Why do you think the Hope Reborn message is important for people with MS, and for those not affected by MS?
Music and dance can convey powerful ideas and can affect people in ways that the written or spoken word may not. Despair can be transformed into hope in the space of a few minutes. The Hope Reborn message could be the spark that someone needs to start reaching out for help, seeing that there is a way through, and that life could even be better than it was before.
What does MS awareness mean for you personally, and how would it help you if more people had a better awareness and understanding of MS?
People with MS struggle in all sorts of ways in daily life, often quietly and invisibly. When I enquired at my local leisure centre about membership, I mentioned my MS and I was surprised to be told that this qualified me for the GP referral scheme. This meant I could join at a reduced rate and with the help of an instructor, that was a huge help.
My MS also qualified me for a blue badge making getting to and from my car so much easier. The benefits system [in the UK] has some catching up to do as there seems to be a lack of MS awareness there. It is currently very difficult for people with MS to apply and be accepted for certain benefits. An MS diagnosis should be sufficient to remove many of the obstacles that are currently in the way.
‘There is no reason for anyone to struggle with this condition on their own’
How did you find the Overcoming MS program and how has it helped you?
When I first suspected I might have MS I started doing research online and I quickly realised that diet was an important factor in controlling the disease. I had been a vegetarian for a long time but realised that I needed to cut out dairy too so I moved to a largely plant based diet. Around this time I remembered a radio interview that I’d heard a few years earlier, about an Australian doctor who had found a way to manage his own MS. A quick google search led me to Professor George Jelinek and from there to the Overcoming MS website.
After reading Professor Jelinek’s book 'Overcoming MS' it all just made a lot of sense, and importantly there was a lot of evidence to support not just the diet but the whole program. I knew this was something I could follow for the rest of my life. It also crucially put me back in the driver’s seat, which was a huge confidence boost.
Why do you think it’s important to raise awareness about the work Overcoming MS does?
The realisation that someone has MS, be it at diagnosis or before, can be like a hammer blow, your world is suddenly turned upside-down and the future looks like a scary place. Once the shock has subsided knowing where to turn for help and guidance can save a lot of unnecessary heartache. Overcoming MS provides a complete program and a lot of support from other people with MS. There is no reason for anyone to struggle with this condition on their own.
Released in February 2023, the music composition and short film have reached thousands of people already, sharing a message of hope that despite the challenges living with MS can bring, there is always hope for a full and positive life with the condition. Watch the video here: Hope Reborn video
To support Overcoming MS and the MS Society, download the single for just 99p on Amazon Music here: Download the Hope Reborn single