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S3 Episode 44

S3E44: Empowering Advocacy

Empowerment is one of the strategic pillars of the Overcoming MS charity, and advocacy is a practical way in which we realize this goal. Living Well with MS is honored to welcome two of Overcoming MS’s newest trustees – Prof. Helen Rees Leahy and Alison Marwick – for a special roundtable discussion on how advocacy is put in practice. This episode dives into the mission of advocacy and how we put it in play by developing tools and resources to enable OMSers to have confidence in talking about OMS to family, friends, health care professionals, and others.

Click here for a full transcript of this episode.

Helen’s Bio: 

Helen was diagnosed with Primary Progressive MS in 1997 when she was 37 years old. Being ineligible for any Disease Modifying Treatment (DMT) within the UK National Health Service, she began to explore holistic approaches to managing her condition. She discovered OMS in 2008 and has followed the program ever since. In 2021, Helen joined the OMS Board of Trustees.  

Helen lives in Conwy, a small, medieval town in North Wales. In 2017, she took medical retirement from the University of Manchester where she was a Professor in the Department of Art History and Cultural Practice. As an Emerita Professor, Helen continues to research and teach doctoral students. She also spends time hand-weaving and learning Welsh, the language of her ancestors. Helen has never taken medication for her MS and is committed to living well through active self-care. 

Alison’s Bio: 

Allie is originally from Edinburgh but now lives in Surrey. While living in London in 2004 she had her first MS episode, but it was not until 2011 that she was formally diagnosed. Living in limbo for seven years, she buried her head in the sand and hoped nothing more would happen, but optic neuritis led to a formal diagnosis and the necessity to accept that MS was to be part of her life. Not willing to sit and wait for the next episode, she found Overcoming MS a few months later and has never looked back. 

Since finding OMS Allie has supported the organization in many ways, and in 2018 became an ambassador for the OMS Circle in Surrey. Supporting the organization that has given her so much after diagnosis and enables her to live a full life is important to Allie, and why she applied to become an ambassador. 

Allie lives with her partner, Neil, and is lucky to be able to work full time as a Salesperson for an IT consultancy. She enjoys spending time in her garden, running (slowly), and is looking forward to returning to Covent Garden Royal Opera House to enjoy the opera in the autumn. 


  • What is advocacy? 

  • What does it mean for the OMS community? 

  • How do we do out it in practice? 

  • What is the OMS Advocacy Group? 

  • Where can you begin? 

  • How do we measure success? 

Empowerment begins with OMS listening to and learning from the diverse experiences of our community: we’d love you to help us shape this work. See below for more info on the advocacy section of the OMS website.  

Recommended Links:  

  • Check out Overcoming MS’s new advocacy page on our website. 

Coming up on our next episode: 

Only three episodes left in Season 3! Next up: just in time for Giving Tuesday 2021 and starting November 29, meet Nicole Zobrist, the ambassador of the OMS Circle in Portland, Oregon, on Living Well with MS Coffee Break #25, part of our popular ongoing series introducing you to members of OMS’s dynamic community from around the globe.  

Don’t miss out:

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