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Stamford multiple sclerosis sufferer to take part in Big Purple Dog Walk for MS-UK

A woman with multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia who couldn’t walk last year is pounding the pavements this month to raise money for a charity.

Jane McKnight, from Stamford, was diagnosed with MS in 2022 after suffering speech and vision problems and dizzy spells.

She is taking part in The Big Purple Dog Walk for the MS-UK charity with her two spaniels Gary and Biddy.

Jane McKnight with her two spaniels Gary (left) and Biddy
Jane McKnight with her two spaniels Gary (left) and Biddy

Jane, 45, has another motivation for taking part – a deal with a surgeon to shed 10kg in just three months which would allow her to undergo a potentially life-changing operation.

“Last year, my MS took a turn for the worse,” she said.

“I was in terrible pain, and even the simplest tasks such as putting on my socks, brushing my teeth and even walking became impossible.

Biddy likes to help out when Jane is at work at Stamford Veterinary Centre
Biddy likes to help out when Jane is at work at Stamford Veterinary Centre

“I developed depression and anxiety and could no longer get out and about to walk my dogs – I had to pay a dog walker.

“I had to have counselling to try and come to terms with how much MS had affected my life.”

As well as having to deal with weight gain, and steroid injections, Jane was also diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a long-term condition which causes widespread pain and exhaustion.

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She tried to manage her condition by reducing her workload as a dog groomer and trying different pain-relief medication.

“Then I went to see a surgeon and he thinks he will be able to give me an operation that will hopefully have a positive effect on a number of issues that are causing me pain, if I can lose the weight,” Jane explained.

“So I have to shift 10kg in three months – I have until the end of April.”

Biddy is a Pets at Therapy (PAT) dog for hospital patients and has been with Jane since a puppy, while Gary was rescued in a terrible condition, aged six months, from a drugs den.

He has become a lifeline for Jane.

“He is a huge support to me – he just seems to understand me,” she said.

“He checks on me when I’m in the shower and is never far away.”

Jane knows The Big Purple Dog Walk will be challenging, but has planned carefully for the event.

“I never know each day what surprised MS will throw my way,” she added.

“What I can do in the morning isn’t the same as what I can do in the afternoon.

“For now the plan is to stick to lead walks on the pavement because the fields are too wet and muddy and I need to be very careful about safety.”

The Big Purple Dog Walk encourages dog owners to get outside and exercise more.

Everyone who signs up at ms-uk.org/big-purple-dog-walk and sets up a fundraising page gets a dog bandana after their first donation.

Three lucky pooches will also win personalised gourmet treat jars.

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