Positive About MS founder Kaz Laljee talks to UCan2 editor Victoria Galligan on World MS Day about offering a lifeline of support for people all over the world who have been diagnosed with MS.
When faced with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, Kaz found there was very little in the way of positive support. Working as an HR manager with a background in marketing at post-grad level, Kaz decided to do something about the lack of meaningful, useful resources for people with MS.
He says, “I set up Positive About MS in 2010, about a year after I was diagnosed. Everything I had read, seen and heard about MS since my diagnosis has been negative. I was being told that my life was over: that I should just go and watch TV, or go to Switzerland and kill myself.
“For example, I was watching a TV show called Waterloo Road and a young teacher, who had her whole life in front of her, announced to her colleagues that she had MS, was portrayed in as if she’d announced a death sentence. A few weeks later, I tuned in and there was a funeral – she had killed herself.
“That was the final straw for me. I am a strong-willed person and I wanted other newly diagnosed people to see something positive about MS.”
After spending £250 on a website, Kaz posted up his informative articles on Positive About MS and the rest, as they say, is history.
“Positive About MS became popular all over the world: people in the US, the Far East, all over Europe joined us. We have a reach of around 20,000 people now.”
The work that Kaz and Positive About MS is exemplary: and Kaz carries out the work voluntarily alongside his marketing job. The group campaign for World MS Day and MS Awareness Week (when their posts reached 93,000) and highlight new treatments and medical innovations. And Kaz gives talks to people who have been newly diagnosed with MS, working alongside Salford Royal Hospital – a centre of excellence for MS.
Kaz says, “I want people to go away from my talks feeling good. We aren’t a charity but we are crowdfunding to pay for marketing and admin, without which we wouldn’t be able to reach as many people.
“We want to provide good, valuable information and offer regular content to inform people. Our social media campaigns are very well received and we are one of the most popular groups in the country when it comes to MS.
“We get lots of messages from people who are grateful for the support Positive About MS offers. Our posts are shared throughout the community.
“Having MS is a different journey but we want to show people that if they have a positive approach it’s better. And we want to show people what they can do, rather than what they can’t.”
Kaz’s determination to live life to the full is inspiring and he tells me, “In Dubai, people don’t use the word ‘disabled’ as it’s seen as an insult there. They use the term ‘determined people’.”
With an ethos grounded in positivity and determination, it’s no wonder that Kaz and the Positive About MS team are proving such a popular service among people affected by MS worldwide.