BEING defeated by her diagnosis was something Denise Amato couldn’t abide by four years ago after being told she had primary progressive multiple sclerosis.
Amato decided to participate in the MSWA Albany Swim and agreed to act as the ambassador in a fortnight to help raise awareness for her condition and for other people suffering with a range of neurological conditions across the Great Southern.
The MSWA Albany Swim has run for seven years and teams of 10 see how far they are able to swim in an eight-hour period.
Amato said when she started she had a single of team of 10 which quickly escalated of two teams of 10.
“I had so many friends and family offer to join in,” she said.
“We’ve raised over the $4000 mark now and we didn’t really go into it wanting to fundraise.
“Some people were saying they weren’t very good at fundraising but having said that, the three leading fundraisers at the moment are all in my team.”
Amato said it took her a few years to be able to tell anyone outside of her close friends and family that she was diagnosed with MS.
“I was very private with my diagnosis and this year I decided to go public with it,” she said.
“I didn’t want to be ‘oh there’s Denise Amato, the one with MS’.
“I wanted to live my life.”
Amato said despite her condition affecting her mobility and energy levels, she decided she wanted to give back to MSWA for the help they had given her.
“Mainly I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and do something,” she said.
“I need a reason to get out of bed most mornings so I thought this is a reason to do something good.”
Amato said she swims in the ocean five days a week rain, hail or shine.
“I really thought I could swim,” she joked.
“But I soon realised that I really can’t swim well at all hence our team being called the Bathroom and Decor Bobbers.
“It’s a reflection of my ability as an ocean bobber rather than a swimmer.”
Amato said the support she had received from MSWA to manage her condition was invaluable and encouraged anyone suffering from a similar condition to get in touch with them.
“You’re not succumbing to this illness by changing how you do things everyday,” she said.
“It’s a vehicle to help you live your life the best you can.
“Some days I feel pretty useless and it would be easier to shrink into a corner but I don’t stop trying.”
The MSWA Albany Swim will run on March 23 at the Albany Leisure and Aquatic Centre from 9am to 5pm.
Registrations are available at www.MSWASwim.org.au.