Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Lismore woman with MS to go on once-in-a-lifetime adventure

LIZ Hajenko is going on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure to the Subantarctic islands off Australia and New Zealand in December but there's once catch - the Lismore woman suffers a debilitating illness.

To achieve her dream the 35-year-old needs money.

When she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) at the age of 27, Ms Hajenko thought she would never realise her dream.

"I thought this is the sort of thing that happens to other people, not me" she said.

"For the past nine years since I was diagnosed this has been my dream."

MS is a chronic disease that affects the central nervous system, and is the result of damage to myelin - a protective sheath surrounding nerve fibres of the central nervous system - by the body's own immune system.

When myelin is damaged this interferes with messages between the brain and body.

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Ms Hajenko said MS affected three times as many women as men.

"For some people, MS is characterised by periods of relapse and remission while for others it has a progressive pattern," she said. "For everyone, it makes life unpredictable."

Her adventure will be more than a holiday, with Ms Hajenko undertaking a project during her voyage.

"My project, My Subantarctic Voyage with MS, aims to raise awareness about MS as well as share information about the unique environments of the Subantarctic and the Southern Ocean," she said.

"New Zealand company Heritage Expeditions have offered me a scholarship berth on their Galapagos of the Southern Ocean expedition in December.

"The support will help me produce and promote a website about the Subantarctic and the Southern Ocean from the point of view of a non-professional explorer, and share accounts of travelling to these remote regions with MS.

"The support I have received so far has been amazing and now the project needs that extra push to get off the ground, and I'd like to ask for the communities' help in this next stage."

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