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Stamford Today, Thursday 29 August 2002

Former mayor helps to battle 'stigma of MS'

Terl Bryant vows to keep going despite illness

A Leading Stamford citizen has spoken about the effects and stigma attached to multiple sclerosis sufferers.

South Kesteven District Council chairman and past town mayor, councillor Terl Bryant, was diagnosed with the condition 9 years ago.

MS is a neurological condition which affects around 60 people in Stamford alone. But Terl refused to sit on his laurels and let himself be beaten by, what he calls, the MonSter.

"I went to my doctor with what I thought was 'a cold," he said. "I was sent for some tests and they said 'terribly sorry old boy but you've got MS'; that was the level of help I got.

"With other conditions someone will take your hand and reassure you of the outcome but many in the same boat as me received very little, or no, care or advice."

The subject is topical at the moment with the television series, The West Wing, where the US president is diagnosed with MS and trying to find the best time to tell his public. ClIr Bryant is a well-known personality in Stamford and is frequently in the public eye. He doesn't agree with hiding the fact at all: "I went into denial at first, as many do. But now I know I have the condition, it doesn't have me and I will do all I can to keep going as long as possible.

"I tell people I have MS and the response is usually 'No you don't, you're not in a wheelchair'. People do not like talking to people with illnesses and I especially find, if I'm using my wheelchair, they'll talk to my wife and not to me.

"The members of the Multiple Sclerosis Society did find some wry amusement in the way The West Wing handled the issue. But I keep myself going by trying to look on the bright side".

Cllr Bryant has worked very hard to keep going and uses his time to the full. He attends public events, like the Stamford Festival, keeping a smile through it all, although he says he spends the next 2 days recovering.

As with any illness, some suffer more than others. There are many in Stamford who are bed ridden with MS and yet others who have been denied certain drugs. Terl Bryant is prescribed a drug commonly used to treat Parkinson's disease, given on a named-person basis. However, another drug, beta interferon, was labelled as non cost-effective by the government. The question, from Terl is: "Do you think maintaining life can be measured in cost effectiveness?".

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